"Screen-Free" Can Be a Lifestyle

Apr 25, 2013

Screen-free living can be a lifestyle. Children throughout history have had very normal, natural childhoods without screens.
We've reached Day #9 in the "Screen-Free Family Activities" series of the iHomeschool Network's "2013 Spring Hopscotch. I want to address a final concern on this post: 


"Won't my kids be bored without screens?", you may ask. 

"It's possible", I may reply.

It really depends how much time they spend using screens as a form of entertainment. My youngest, for instance, doesn't care for screens most times. She may play on Club Penguins when her moods are teetering. She watches T.V. at night if she doesn't have her niece available for play. Otherwise, the T.V. is a source of irritation to her (the noise) and she views computer time as a "waste". 

So is screen-free boring for her? Not at all. She much prefers to play in the mud and climb trees.

If, however, a child uses these things as a source of constant entertainment, then, you may be the recipient of the "I'm bored" whine serenade, a song no mother enjoys.

Let's see if it's worth the effort.

Screen-Free as Lifestyle

See the photo above? It's not the best photo. It was taken on a bad phone camera. But I love it. It shows my daughter (age 7 at the time) dancing around in a fairy princess dress. Dancing. Behind her, you see my son's paintings on the walls. Next to her is a stack of his paintings. 

There is a T.V., but it is turned off. In fact, there was no cable service connected to it. It was used for the occasional movie or playing Just Dance. Rarely did either of those happen.

I would suggest that Screen-Free Week isn't about removing all devices from our lives for a week. It's about beginning a lifestyle. If we start while our children are young, it's easy to go screen-free for a week.

My children have been raised without screens for the most part. Television has never been a primary source of entertainment. In fact, we didn't have it for 12 years. Think about that. My 10 year old never had television until 6 months ago. My 14-year-old hasn't had it since she was two. (Yes, I use to sit her in front of Teletubbies as a baby.)

Just so you don't think I'm bragging about our television-free life, it was not a conscientious decision. The simple truth is that there was no television reception where we lived unless we had cable and I didn't. Deliberate or not, living without it has had lasting benefits to my family. They pursue music, art, tree-climbing, dancing and gymnastics. 

They're too busy for the T.V. we now have.

Screen-Free Week in our house isn't very different than everyday life. For us it's more like a stay-cation. We simply do more of the things we do all the time like hiking, parks, splash pads and museums. 

If the opposite were true and my children were accustomed to screens-for-entertainment, then I'd use Screen-Free Week as a jumping point towards a more screen-free lifestyle.

The Effects of Too Much Screen Time

In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments - there are consequences. - Robert G. Ingersoll
What is considered a "norm" in society isn't necessarily what is good for us. Children who find the majority of their entertainment in televisions, tablets, phones and laptop screens suffer the negative effects such as sleep problems, obesity and lower academic performance.

During Screen-Free Week, we are "Screen-Free". During the rest of the year the goal should at least be "nearly screen-free". In our modern society, we use screens for work, school and information, but we don't need them as a constant source of entertainment.

Children throughout history have had very normal, natural childhoods without screens. Surely we can minimize our children's use of screens so that they are healthy, happy and appreciative of the opportunities around them.

In addition to the many things I've talked about over the last 8 days, I'm sure you can find many more ideas for reducing screen time by visiting the 2013 Spring Hopscotch!

Happy Homeschooling!

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