I don’t think of my daughter as someone who watches a lot of tv or spends much time on the computer. But when I said “no” to her recently about a request for one of those things her disappointment seemed strangely exaggerated. Maybe she was really tired or having a bad day. But it still made me think about some even tighter guidelines.
According to Kids Health the average 8 to 18-year-old watches almost 4 hours of TV a day and almost 2 additional hours is spent in front of the computer. Yikes! That’s far beyond what my daughter watches, but for me, there’s something that bothers me about having her use screen time as a default activity.
When I began saying “no” more often, I liked what I saw. One time she just headed into our laundry room where we keep the craft “stuff,” things like modeling clay, beads, cool looking junk mail that might make for fun collages, and half a million crayons and markers. In no time, she was involved.
But what if she didn’t do that? What if she fell on the floor and bawled her eyes out? And then what if she was so bored she couldn’t stand it?
Well, she’d still survive. Eventually, she’d have to find something else to do. And that something would probably engage her eventually. And I think it would be a good sign that she needed a break from the screen.
One thing that makes it easy for us is, well, we only have four channels that work on our TV. One of those channels is PBS. That’s the only channel I let her watch. There are plenty of shows she likes and there are no commercials showing her all the tantalizing things you can buy.
We also pose choices. If she wants screen time after school, that’s fine, but that means no screen time before bed.
With spring arriving in northern Minnesota we’re spending more evenings outside riding bikes and collecting maple sap. I’m finding that simply getting involved in other things is far easier than talking about what we won’t be doing. Surprise your family by suggesting a few new games this week or cleaning out a closet. Rearranging bedrooms are a great way to loose yourself. Whatever you do, enjoy the surprises that come with trying something new.
Will you participate in Screen Free Time? Let us know what your experience is.