Last week Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood held their SCREEN FREE WEEK. This was the fourth or fifth screen free week that our family has participated in and it was definitely the hardest. My children are now teens/pre-teens and the pandemic has made all of us turn to screens for outside connection and distraction. As a family we modified our expectations of screen free week and allowed the following: school work, checking email once a day, checking texts 3 times a day, and face timing with friends and family. We also modified the dates and started Sunday, May 2 and went through Friday, May 7th.
My son had the hardest time. The first day he wandered around the house aimlessly, unwilling to partake in any of the ideas that I suggested for him. By day 2 he had dusted off his drawing pad and was willing to play a game or two but he was still so moody. It was a rainy and cold start to the week and that did not help his sullen mood. By day three, he seemed a bit more at ease but still missed the video games that he relies on for relaxation and fun.
My daughter struggled at first, she really missed YouTube. After day one, she too eased in and found solace in her audio books, photography and crafting.
Unplugging from social media was the toughest part for me but that urge to check my phone only lasted for a day and a half. By day three, I was in the groove and did not miss social media AT ALL.
As a family we finished a 1,000 piece puzzle, started listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on audio, played dozens of games (including one that my son made up which was so fun), finished 5 books, took a few hikes, played ball at the park, had LONG family dinners and listened to LOTS of music.
Yesterday I asked the kids if they learned anything from their Screen Free Week and if they may change any of the habits that they had picked up during the pandemic? They both said that the week was fine but that they love their screens and plan to go back to using screens during their designated screen times. I know that they missed their screens and that they are very important to them. However as the weather gets nicer I know they also enjoy time outside and time being creative. I am hopeful that this break reminded them of all of their other interests and hobbies and they can find a better balance. I know that I enjoyed Screen Free week and it was an important reset for me.