Choosing screen time limits for your family is a wholly personal process based on the unique needs of you and your children. We are a tech-obsessed family so we have zero screen-time limits on mobile gaming devices or a small selection of computer-based games, but we do have required off-screen days here and there to take a break from technology and reconnect with each other. At first my kids whined like crazy about not being able to use the iPad and having to actually interact with my husband and I, but eventually they grew to look forward to the time without media distractions.
Some parents and caregivers may be a little hesitant to practice screen-free time because they (like I) depend on the iPad or a quick game of Minecraft or a 30-minute episode of an animated TV show to engage the kids long enough to complete household chores or keep them busy while grocery shopping. Other parents might not know where to start in planning activities for kids that don’t involve technology. There’s also a group of families that have come to rely on tablets or smartphones to help communicate with their special needs kids.
Whatever your situation may be, trying some screen-free time might turn out to be a beneficial way to re-assess your position on screen time limits. Truth is, none of us NEED screen time to be good parents, and despite what they may think, children don’t NEED it to be entertained and engaged. If you’re not sure that your family’s choices are working, or you’ve wanted to experience life without tech for a while, consider participating in Screen-Free Week from May 5-11.
Screen-Free Week is an annual event sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. According to the website, it’s an “international celebration where children, families, schools, and communities spend seven days turning OFF entertainment screen media and turning ON life! It’s a time to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore nature, and spend time with family and friends.” (Apparently this is limited to non-school related fun – homework not included, although I’m sure it could be if your kiddo worked hard enough to find an actual encyclopedia in the library.)
To help you get started, here are some great links for off-screen fun:
ScreenFree.org offers some activities
Join the Screen-Free Facebook page
Map of Play lets you find the nearest local playground or park