Screen-Free Week brings awareness to the most significant battlefield we face as parents raising children in popular culture today- technology. However, digital devices are not the problem. Our time and habits spent on our screens are the real issues.
It’s important that we purposely provide our kids with regular screen-free space in their lives.
It’s one of the reasons we send our kids to tech-free sleep-away summer camp, and since our teens will soon be living in the woods without their beloved devices, we will not be totally shutting off their screens this week. But, we will be using this time to discuss our current usage and habits on digital devices.
Here are 3 ways we can allow National Screen-Free Week to empower us to create healthier screen time habits
1. Get honest about your child’s screen time
Do you know how much time you and your children are spending on technology each day?
Thanks to the iPhone update with the Screen Time setting, we can check in to see precisely how we are spending our time. Yikes!
Recent studies of entertainment screen use have found that children spend A LOT of free time in front of screens. My child is proof of this as I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went on Screen Time and saw the numbers for myself. There were many excuses for why this was, but I’m happy to report that we now have this more under control.
Decide now how much time is ‘healthy’ to be on screens for each member of your family; communicate about it and then pivot to set new parameters if needed.
Remember, our goal is to create a greater screen-life balance overall. Summer is just around the corner, equating to even more time spent on devices if we’re not mindful!
2. Establish screen time boundaries
Draw up a cell phone-media contract listing your expectations so that your child can understand that owning a smartphone is a privilege that comes with boundaries.
Taking the time and making an effort to write out your guidelines shows your child that you are in charge and that you don’t consider screen-time a light matter in your family. A cell phone-media contract helps your child balance screen time with real-time activities by expressing your family expectations in writing.
The goal of a cell phone-media contract is merely to open up a dialogue with kids about our beliefs and values when owning an iDevice. It is only a communication tool that is never too late to be introduced to your family, no matter how long your child has already owned a phone.
We must purposely create screen-free environments that support conversation and face-to-face communication. Do you allow phones at the dinner table or in the bedrooms detracting from interaction and family connection?
3. Replace screen time with more meaningful pursuits
National Screen-Free Week invites people to “play, explore and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens.” Instead of scrolling through Instagram, reading the news online, watching Netflix, or playing Candy Crush, use that time to do ANYTHING else.
Help your children find other positive ways to spend their time, including making sure they have ample time to be bored. When children automatically reach for screens to fill in for a potentially dull moment in their day, they are missing out on the many benefits that boredom can bring.
WHAT IS SCREEN-FREE WEEK?
Screen-Free Week is an annual, international celebration hosted by the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood that encourages children, families, schools, and communities to go free of entertainment screens for an entire week. The week originally began as TV Turnoff Week in 1994, intending to reduce time spent in front of the television; CCFC started to host the event in 2010, renaming it Screen-Free Week in light of the greater variety of digital screens competing for children’s free time.
Screen-Free Week gives you a needed break from news feeds, targeted ads, and autoplay videos while providing families and communities an opportunity to connect. Head to screenfree.org for great ideas of things to do!
A bonus is that Screen-Free Week takes place at the same time as Children’s Book Week! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from replacing the handheld digital device with an actual book this week and beyond!