I unilaterally declared a “no screens” afternoon today at our house, and the results were great although my announcement was initially not enthusiastically received.
My wife and I have noticed that left to their own devices with access to Internet-connected laptops, television and to a lesser extent our family Wii, our children could easily spend over 90% of their discretionary time plugged-in to a screen of some kind. When we discuss our “on-screen” time, I certainly am indicting myself, as I tend to spend a huge amount of time each week “on-screen,” mainly on my laptop. There are so many important things to do in life which do NOT involve a computer, television, or game system screen, however, that I think it’s important we as adults and parents provide some boundaries for our children when it comes to their their permitted screen-time. It’s also important that we model “no-screen” time as well. This relates to the evening technology fast my wife and I agreed to during the 2006 holidays. It also relates well to Network for a Healthy California “Champions for Change” prescriptions to BE ACTIVE. On their website’s “Be Active Tips” page they recommend:
Limit screen time to two hours or less each day. This includes TV, computers, and video games.
Two hours per day?! Are they kidding?
No, they are not. I probably should count the number of hours each day I spend “on-screen.” I’m guessing the result would be a little scary, and certainly out of compliance with “Champions for Change” best practices.
As a result of our family’s unilaterally declared “no-screens” afternoon, our kids spent much of the afternoon playing outside, as well as building with blocks, playing chess, drawing pictures, and reading books. A sizable amount of yard work was also completed by yours truly. While perhaps not entirely a “day of rest,” it was a welcome respite day (for the most part) from the lure of the prolific television and computer screens in our home. 🙂
I wrote a related post in June following our family camping vacation titled “The benefits of unplugging.” A 21st century vacation is largely defined, for me, by the degree to which I am able to disconnect from technology for an extended period of time.
The website Limit TV claims that television “hinders a child’s imagination, independence, inquiry and interaction.”
According to today’s English WikiPedia:
In 2008 Adbusters changed the name of TV Turnoff Week to Mental Detox Week to reflect the growing predominance of computers and other digital devices.
White Dot is “the international campaign against television.” For additional reading on this theme, check out Adbusters:
…a global network of culture jammers and creatives who are working to change the way information flows and meaning is produced in our society.
I am not planning on throwing away my computer, television or iPhone anytime soon, but I certainly DO plan to have more “no screens” Sundays in the weeks ahead. Digital discipline is important, and that means intentionally unplugging on a regular basis.
screen, television, computer, limit, parenting, discipline, digital
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We dumped the TV 8 years ago in my home. We still watch DVDs and some VCR tapes that haven’t been converted yet, and then there’s streaming media, but all in all, the only thing we miss is coverage of the Olympics, which this year we picked up as highlights from YouTube.
On the positive side, my children are all prolific readers and are very good conversationalists. We limit screen time to 3-4 hr/day.
I have to admit that I would be on the computer 24 hours a day if I could because I love it! I actually make myself do other things like gardening for at least an hour each day, household chores and then computer time as a reward, and hubby and I walk 4.5 miles each day. We have to teach our children self discipline the same way so they can make decisions like this as adults.