Could you go Screen Free for a week?

I’ll be the first to admit that I use the TV as a babysitter. My son gets to watch a show, either from the DVR or Netflix Instant, while I’m getting ready in the morning, and sometimes in the evening as I’m getting dinner ready. If, for some reason, the DVR is having issues, I am likely to agree to his using my laptop to watch videos online. On a few occasions, I’ve also let him explore the Star Wars Sounds app on my phone.

Of course, part of me wants to be that mom….the mom who never let her kids watch TV in the first place, and whose kids happily play by themselves while she whips up some healthy, but nutritious baked goods in the kitchen.

But, who am I kidding?

I will say that like me, my son is not a big TV watcher. He rarely watches an entire 30 minute show, and instead gets started on his latest Lego creation (or asks me to play or can’t find a particular piece and wants help…which I am embarrassed to admit has made me think, more than once, “Can’t you please just watch this show so I can get ___________ done?”).

I know screen time can add up quickly. The numbers are staggering:

  • School-age children spend nearly twice as many hours with screen media such as television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices as they do in school.
  • Television use is at an all-time high among preschoolers—according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 24 hours a week watching TV.
  • Screen time is habituating and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits and attention problems.
  • Forty percent of 3-month-old infants are regular viewers of television and DVDs—even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two.
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I do want to stay mindful of my child’s consumption of media, especially as he grows older, and so I made the decision to participate in Screen-Free Week, which will take place April 18-24, 2011 (yep, that is next week).

How am I going to do it? Well, I haven’t quite gotten that far, but one thing I do know is that it will mean spending less time on my phone and my laptop when I’m with my son, and more quality time together. On the Facebook page for Screen-Free Week, folks have posted articles and ideas. Here is a great article with a list of possible activities.

I think, for the most part, it will come down to planning. How can I involve my son in dinner preparation? Can he be part of a conversation about a new morning routine that doesn’t include a remote?

I don’t honestly know how this will go. But what do I have to lose?

Wish me luck!

Have you been successful in reducing or eliminating your children’s screen time? Any words of wisdom to share?

Written by: Nicole Basham

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

4 Comments on Could you go Screen Free for a week?

  1. So with you on all of this. I always swore before I had kids that I’d never babysit by TV. Then I had a two month old and I wanted a hot meal, damn it. So she got started on TMBG’s Here Come The ABCs, which we came to call BabyCrack.

    I try to console myself with the notion that she, like yours, will stop watching when she’s done. That means we’ve empowered them with the right skills to not become TV-zombies. So I figure we’re doing okay.

    Oh, and “that mom” has her own issues. Everyone does.

  2. We’re going to try to do it, too, which won’t be hard during the week because we usually don’t watch during the week (except that my husband’s out of town all that week!). What WILL be hard is the weekend. We have movie night on Fridays, so that’s out the window, and we often let our daughter play games on the iPod Touch while we get just a little more sleep on Saturday mornings … gotta remember to set out the paper, glue, stickers, crayons and markers Friday night!

  3. Ugh…good luck! Unfortunately, we watch more TV than we should though I have tried to cut back and just have music going especially during the weekend.

    I’m not sure we can go without it, but maybe reduced use…sort of like harm reduction!

  4. You can do it! You’ll probably sit around Monday night wondering what to do with yourselves but by Friday I think you’ll find you don’t miss it that much.
    Good luck!

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