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How a Screen Fast can boost the fun factor in your home

by Traci Schumacher on Thu, 01/23/2014 - 12:21pm

I have a love hate relationship with screens. Screens... you know, the kind kids love to stare at for hours on end, playing video games or watching tv shows and movies?

I love for my children to have fun, and I happily acknowledge that they can have fun and learn certain skills and knowledge from video games. And I love movies and shows that are funny, inspirational, thought-provoking. There can be a lot of value on a screen.

What I do not love is how my children have become so dependent on screens to entertain them. They will forsake toys, books, games, even friends sometimes, just for the chance to play video games or watch a movie. This, I am certain, is not healthy.

We do have regular limits on the amount of time to be spent “screening” in our home. Nonetheless, we have reached a point where my children struggle to find anything to do that does not involve a screen. They complain of “boredom” and “nothing to do.” Therefore, we are now under a 3-Day Screen Fast.

I realized it wasn't enough for me to limit their screen time daily. They always want more. And somehow one kid gets in a little extra time, so then, in the name of fairness, everyone has to have more screen time. With three kids running about, I confess I sometimes lose track of who has had just how much time on a screen. They see this weakness, and seize the inherent opportunity. It's simply tiring. Thus, the Screen Fast.

For our Screen Fast, we are embracing (or enduring, depending on whom you ask) three full days – Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – with no video game or tv/movie time. Okay, there is that small exception for homework. But other than homework... none. No asking, no pleading. It's just not happening, and we all know it.

So yesterday was our first day of the Fast. There was some hardship initially as my children sorted out different ideas of what to do. They actually had to relate with each other, and navigate how to get along for an extended time, even with differing opinions. But after resolving a few skirmishes, we ended the evening on a happy note, enjoying a fun scavenger hunt my daughter created for us all to do.

This is what it's about, parents. Relating and interacting and working out our issues. It is far easier to turn the kids loose with the video games or tv. But where they explore their creativity, practice relational skills, master the control of their emotions, develop a healthy sense of belonging... it's in the real world. It's in the family. It may require more interaction from parents (aka parenting), but it is so worth it.

I love to see what my children come up with when they put their minds to it. I love to see their silliness and their challenges. I love to see them struggle, with the hope there is learning on the other side of it. I love to see them vibrant and messy and energetic. I mostly don't see all of that when they are screening.

So, yes, we will break our Screen Fast in a couple days, and they can resume their screen time fun. But I suspect there may be more Screen Fasts in our future. Partly for the sheer fun of it.

 

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