As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, Screen Free Week is being observed this week, April 29th - May 5th. Random House has been urging families to Unplug and Read. As you might infer by the fact that I'm blogging right now, I'm not going screen free myself. However, I am attempting to keep my 3 year old daughter, Baby Bookworm, free of screens. Because she never uses screens during the day anyway, this mainly consists of three things:
- Not letting her use the iPad in the morning after breakfast (something that I often allow, so that I can read the paper, shower, etc.).
- Not letting her watch television in the evening (we sometimes watch a movie or television episode after dinner - she's currently in the middle of Season 1 of Full House).
- Not using my iPhone when she is around (because this makes her want to play with it).
So how are we doing on these three things?
- Monday morning she cried for a few minutes over not using the iPad. But then we did some gymnastics, pretended we were taking an airplane to Los Angeles, and read two books. Tuesday morning she didn't even ask for the iPad, wanting instead to play a game in which I was the baby, and she was the daddy. I convinced her that "the baby" wanted to read books, and she went and dug out some of her early baby books for us to read together. Wednesday morning, again, no request for the iPad. We did puzzles, read several books, and packed up for a pretend trip to the beach.
- Monday night she protested quite loudly about wanting to watch "a movie" (she calls everything on the TV a movie). But only for a couple of minutes. Then we went into the playroom and played Little People, and she went on a pretend camping trip with my husband. Tuesday night she asked a couple of times for television, but was even more easily deflected by puzzles and pretend camping. We also read a lot more books before bed than usual, because we got started earlier (see stack to the right).
- Not looking at my iPhone screen when she's around has been the hardest one for me. Baseball scores! Facebook! Checking my email! But I don't think that she has even noticed. This one is going to be a lot harder on the weekend, when I'm with her all day.
We're only a couple of days in, but already, I'm noticing a few things.
- It doesn't take very much time to make or break habits when you're dealing with a three year old. I was surprised that on the second day she didn't even ask for the iPad. It's possible that we'll get the to end of the week, and she'll completely stop asking for the iPad at all.
- When she's not watching TV or using the iPad, she is engaging in more creative play. We did at one point pretend to be watching television, I must admit, but she was perfectly happy to pretend, and didn't ask for the real thing. While I do think that she learns some things on the iPad (we have apps that are helping her with letter recognition, for example), I have to think that active pretend play is more beneficial at this age. We are also reading more books, which is certainly a good thing.
- I think that the reason she is ok with giving up the screens (which she loves) is that she gets more of mommy and daddy's time and attention. If I was trying to send her off to play by herself in the mornings, I don't think that this whole thing would be very successful.
There's no question that this is a sacrifice in terms of my time. I feel like I'm starting off every day behind, because I get so little time to myself in the mornings. I'm not sure whether I'll be able to continue after this week is over. But there's also no question in my mind that this Screen Free Week is having good outcomes for my daughter.
It's not too late to jump in to Screen Free Week, if any of this sounds interesting to you. My personal view is that it's a good excuse to look at how much time your kids are spending on screens, and see what happens if you scale that back a little bit. I'll report back again after the end of the week.