Would you be surprised to know that the average child spend 7.5 hours in what is now called 'media time'? Let me explain. In the last decade we had campaigns that advised us to "Turn Off TV Week" , which then morphed into "Screen Free Week" and now we are being told to limit the media messages our kids hear. Experts are trying to keep up with the ever changing world of technology. Children used to zone out in front of the TV and then that changed to zoning out in front of video games, hand held devices, computers and televisions. What scientists are now looking at is the amount of minutes/hours your child is not only engaged in screen time, but that they are being fed messages through advertisements, music and product placement. If I was able to get a message to each child for 7 1/2 hours each day to eat healthy, our kid's diet would be awesome.
I have to confess that I was nervous going screen free for a week with my two boys. I was afraid of not having the crutch of the TV so that I could cook dinner or do the laundry. It was relatively easy for my boys to go without the electronics, but for me it was a little harder but so worth the effort. Here are just some of the benefits I noticed:
- The constant chatter inside my head lessened: "buy this"; "look like that"; "feed your kids this" and hundreds of other messages telling me what I should do or buy each day started to disappear
- I was no longer living my life worried about what was happening on Modern Family or Parenthood. I would often find myself thinking during the day "I wonder what is going to happen to Julia next". I can focus on real life stuff:)
- My kids were able to fill their time with imaginative play: really they played, real play, old fashion play, go outside and play type of play.
- There was so much reading happening that I had to tell my boys several times to put down the book and go outside to play
- The nagging "Can I watch TV now? How about Now? "Now?"" stopped after 3 days. This one made the whole week worth it.
- I got an extra 1 1/2 hours of sleep a night. Thats right: I find TV stimulates my mind and keeps me up later. When I don't do electronics to zone out after a busy day, I fall asleep when I am tired.
- I got to have more conversations with my sons, real ones like who do you find cute at school,or do you still want to marry Cassie when you get older?
These are just some examples of the benefits I found after just one week of screen free time. I am going to declare Monday through Thursday screen free time in my family from now on. Are you up for the challenge? You will be so glad you turned off the chatter.