If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know that the girls and I just finished up our technology detox week. There’s been a few people who’ve asked me to report back on how our experience went, so I figured this would be a good place to share in case anyone else might want to get a little taste of what to expect before diving into a screen free week of your own.
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about what I was getting myself into with this. I knew it needed to be done but I was bracing for the worst. I am happy to report that it was not nearly as hard as I expected and was well worth the effort. The decision to finally do the detox was a bit spur-of-the-moment. My kids had been begging me all weekend to watch movies despite all of the other fun activities we had going on. Their focus on screen time was preventing them from enjoying the opportunities right in front of their faces. It was a huge wake up call! That night when we got home from our festivity filled day, I let them watch the movie, as I’d promised, but decided enough was enough. As soon as the movie was over I explained that beginning Monday morning we would be doing a technology detox week. Perhaps it helped that they had just finished indulging in screen time, but the fight that I was preparing myself for turned out to be pretty much nonexistent. I explained that this was not a punishment, just a way for our family to get back on track with our attitude surrounding technology. While my oldest did ask me to clarify how this was, in deed, NOT a punishment a couple of times, there was no whining, no incessant questioning, no begging. I was shocked!
Monday morning rolled around and I was sure my kids were going to reach for their devices out of habit as soon and they were dressed and ready for school. Much to my surprise they did not! They remembered the rules of the detox and not so much as a word was said about it. I was impressed! I knew the real test, however, would come after they got home from school. This is when they do the bulk of their screen time and also when they are at their tiredest and crankiest. I equipped myself with extra patience before setting out to pick them up, mentally preparing for what was sure to be a rough afternoon of whining, fighting, and boredom. Much to my surprise they were both in unusually cheerful moods! They rattled on about their days ( instead of the usual “it was good”) and found all sorts of fun activities to fill their time. They did chores to earn money ( on their own accord), crafted, and even played outside! Again, not a word was said about screen time and I was absolutely beside myself as I wondered if I had brought someone else’s children home from school.
The rest of the week pretty much followed suit. While they weren’t in those brilliant bubbly moods every single day, I definitely noticed an improvement in attitude overall. There seemed to be less fighting, less whining ( I was expecting more of both) and while there were a few instances of them asking to watch an occasional show or movie, I was pleasantly surprised how quickly and easily they found other things to do when the answer was no.
One thing I will say about our technology free week is that it did require an investment of my time and attention. I was prepared for this going into it, but I was expecting it to look like me playing referee and activity coordinator all afternoon. Instead it turned out to be a much more positive experience. Each day I tried to have some sort of idea of how we would spend a good chunk of our time whether it was a craft or an errand or just a few activities tucked up my sleeve in case they got bored at home. We went thrift shopping, went to the library, and played lots of board games. I really enjoyed our time together showing them that less screen time means more of other things they enjoy. The beautiful part, was that after an initial investment of me pouring in some good quality time with them each day, they were then able to fairly easily find ways to entertain themselves for a while. Even when it was a little hard for them, I felt more confident sending them off to figure it out, knowing that we had already spent some good time connecting. Ultimately the discovered all sorts of ways to occupy themselves and it was great to see their imaginations fire up again!
Overall our technology detox week was a resoundingly positive experience! Not only did my kids attitudes and creativity improve but I also saw some un expected side effects as well. At one point during the week Emily came up with the idea that she was going to try limiting her sugar intake. She said “You know how we are getting back on track with technology? Well I want to get back on track with how much sugar I eat!” She decided to give up her daily piece of candy and switch from juice to water! Just last night she also informed me that she plans on deleting kid’s YouTube from her iPad because she thinks it is contributing to her nightmares and she knows it will be hard to resist the temptation if she does not delete it. Who knows how long these small little changes will last but it makes me extremely proud to see my kids begin to adopt the idea of setting healthy limits.
Our experiment was such a success that we have decided to cary on with the idea. For now our plan is to continue with screen free week days, letting the kids indulge in an hour or two of screen time on weekend mornings, along with our weekly ritual of Friday Movie Night. Our goal is to find a healthy balance where they can enjoy the privilege and benefits of technology without it ruling their lives. For now the kids are on board and it seems to be working so I am excited to cary on and see how things evolve!