On Thursdays, I post from the vault. This is from March 2013

The older kids’ school requested that families do a “media-free” week
last week. It was an idea I liked in theory but the timing couldn’t
have been worse. They’d had winter break the week prior, which meant all
of them were home so I got very little work done. I was playing
catch-up and could have benefitted from the quiet that throwing on a
movie can provide. Still, I wanted to win the teachers’ approval
honor the school’s wishes and so we declared our home media-free for 7
days. Surprisingly, there was very little whining from the kids, in part
because they’d heard the principal talk about it, so they knew it was
serious business.
I am here to report: something clicked during
our media-free week. It’s like their creativity blossomed. We aren’t
even a media-heavy family. I try to keep good boundaries with our screen-time
using a token system and timer, and on a typical weekday they might get
to watch a Phineas and Ferb episode, and each kid might get a turn
playing with iphone apps on my phone. But even though we do okay with
keeping it to a minimum, the problem is that they are always thinking
about it. “Can I play on your phone?” is the most oft-used phrase
in the house. While the screen time may be limited to under an hour,
during the other hours of the day, it’s as if they are walking around
aimlessly waiting for their next “fix”.  Like they are little addicts
biding their time until they can partake of their drug of choice.
Taking
it away altogether seemed to release them from thinking about it, and
freed them to find other ways to occupy their time. They played games.
They pretended. They sang and put on shows. No one asked to use my phone
. . . they came home from school each day excited to play. It felt like
there was a greater sense of harmony and cooperation.

Photo Feb 27, 5 13 42 PM
We
also lingered at the YMCA longer. The boys played basketball while the
girls sat and made up songs.  Again . . . no one was asking for my phone
and/or pouting because I said no. Just relaxed, ‘in-the-moment play.
Photo Feb 27, 4 29 08 PM
It was definitely a reminder of the influence of media,, and how it has affected our family even with the time limits
we’ve put in place.  I’m not quite ready to give it up completely . . .
the kids do their homework online and I am still a believer in some of
the educational apps we’ve got. But I do want to figure out how to give
them more freedom from the nagging draw of screen-time.  (And honestly,
I’d like to do that for myself, too.)
Have you ever done a
media fast? Did you notice a difference? How do you keep the lure of
media in check in your home, for your kids or for yourself?