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What happened when we took away screen time…

It’s been a week since that night I lost my shit with my children and decided to banish them from all sorts of screen time for a week. And what a week it has been, filled with so many learnings and realizations about the huge impact screen time was having on my children and on us as a family. To the point where Walter and I have made some decisions over the past week about the way forward for our kids.

I expected there to be a lot of whining and nagging from them, about wanting to watch TV or YouTube or play games on the iPad or phone. And to be honest, there was a question or two, but nothing like the meltdowns, screams and wales I expected. By day 2 of no screen time, they had pretty much accepted the punishment with no more questions being asked and the most amazing thing started to happen….

They started playing with each other… imaginary games, dressing little teddy bears and playing pretend house with the bears…. and Ava is learning how to play chess.

Imagination Games

They dance like crazy monkeys to songs playing on the radio, in their own worlds where no one is watching them, or laughing at them, or judging them for their crazy monkey dance moves.

They draw pictures and build puzzles and play board games together, nicely, without fighting or without demanding that Walter and I supervise them constantly.

Drawing

They built a fort in the garden, using the trampoline which they turned on it’s side and covered it in towels and blankets. Spending ages in there chatting and just being little girls.

Fort

We have spent more time having meaningful interactions in the past week than ever before. Being 100% present with each other. Telling them stories about when we were little, the things we got up to, the games we played, the things we did. They were both horrified to learn that TV didn’t even exist when I was little! We only got TV towards the end of the 1970’s, I was a little kid in an era that was screen free, I did what little kids did, I rode my bike, played with the neighborhood kids, fought with and played with my brother.

And it’s been… wonderful!

So Walter and I have made a decision. From today, the TV goes back on, but only between 6pm and 8pm. And the iPad and spare iPhone which Ava loves, will remain hidden away and taken out on occasion only and not as a substitute for meaningful conversation or imaginary games.

I realize it’s become to easy to use electronics as a substitute for real and meaningful play for my children. And that surly can’t be good for their development. I never wanted to become one of those parents… but I’m afraid I have been swayed in that direction this week. No more.

They can now watch TV for a max of 2 hours a day, that two hours also includes supper time and bath time, so it equates to even less screen time than the 2 hours actually allowed.

They have even started playing with all their toys. Who knew, kids actually do play with toys when they’re not distracted by a screen.
I feel like by limiting their screen time, I am in a way helping to grown their bodies and their minds.

 

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27 Comments

  • Reply nunu5

    Wonderful – I end up sending my boys outside sometimes as there is no wifi so no screen time 🙂

    February 2, 2016 at 9:06 am
  • Reply Fertile Minds

    Awesome. I spent some time playing with J yesterday afternoon and it was great for both of us. I think we should implement this type of thing as well.

    February 2, 2016 at 9:15 am
  • Reply Denise

    Such a great move! I’ve always been pedantic about screen time and when on occasion J has the iPad for an extended time we see a HUGE change in his behavior. of course he doesn’t have a sibling which does make it harder but totally worthwhile!

    February 2, 2016 at 10:48 am
  • Reply Craig Lotter

    I experience the same thing with my two kids. Emily is only two, so no problem there, but Jessica is five and is forever wanting to watch TV. I often just say no, and after a little huff and puff, she then turns to playing with her sister – and the two of them have loads of fun each and every time! Limiting screen time is a definite winner! 🙂

    February 2, 2016 at 11:03 am
  • Reply Michelle

    You ll be amazed Sharon, when I was growing up my mother refused point blank to let us watch tv during the week. We were only allowed to do it on Saturday mornings when there was K-TV on, (anyone remember that!). Granted, she was a housewife so had time and means to enforce it and it won’t work for everyone but looking back I m v thankful!

    February 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm
  • Reply Cindy

    We made this change a little while ago and although the house is super noisy now, it’s one of the best things we’ve done for them. We still watch a fair amount of TV, but defs no where close to what it used to be.

    February 2, 2016 at 12:39 pm
  • Reply Waseema

    Lo

    February 2, 2016 at 4:41 pm
  • Reply Waseema

    Loved reading about your realizations…I’ve also implemented limited screen time and can see the huge impact it’s had on my son’s mood. Just have to stay strong

    February 2, 2016 at 4:43 pm
  • Reply CaffeineAndFairydust

    This is a wonderful idea! I hate the effect television has on my kids – it over stimulates them completely. Mikayla started having terrible nightmares a few years ago, and the moment I took away screen time before bed it stopped. The kiddos are only allowed to watch TV while I cook supper – it also helps them unwind after school. On weekends we watch one or two movies, but the rest of the time they have to play. Tough shit.

    February 2, 2016 at 10:16 pm
  • Reply kerryheathfield

    I didn’t always have a TV growing up so I took to books – I realized their magic at a young age and the true love I have for books has followed me through to my adult years. I enjoy series marathons and movies but I also try to limit the screen time for myself and rather do something of “more value” to myself and my growth. I think it is so important for kids to have a balance, so yes, let them watch TV but for a limited amount of time so that they are forced to find something else to do which usually requires creativity and using other skills. Great call Sharon and as always a great post.

    February 8, 2016 at 9:10 am
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