Pressure from my Daughter for Screen-Free Family Time
April 01, 2019
My daughter has been on an anti-cell phone kick for a while now. She is deeply resentful when she feels that my husband and I are texting or otherwise on devices when (she feels) we should be focusing on her. Her views have actually helped drive me in the direction of cutting back (see my post on improving my focus), because a) she's not wrong and b) I don't want to set a screen-obsessed example for her.
A couple of weeks ago she suggested/requested that my husband and I have a contest to see who could go longer without being on a screen. The loser would pay the winner $9 and pay her a $1 finders fee for organizing the contest. We agreed and on a Sunday at noon we put our cell phones into a drawer. Rather to my surprise, we both made it until her bedtime. I made it until my own bedtime and won the contest when my husband returned a few texts late in the evening. I wouldn't have made it past the early morning, though, because I like to read the newspaper on my iPad.
Going without my phone all afternoon was interesting. I didn't really mind not texting. But I did find things that I couldn't do. Adding groceries to my Wunderlist shopping list. Checking scores in the NCAA tournament. Listening to my audiobook while I folded the laundry. It was kind of refreshing, to tell you the truth, though I wouldn't / couldn't do it every day.
I do recommend screen-free time as something that families should try out, though. It's a great way to make sure that you are focusing on one another, instead of giving diluted semi-focus to a bunch of other people or things. I later mentioned Screen Free Week to my daughter. Naturally, she wants us to try to participate. I told her I didn't think I could do it during the work day (though sitting around all week reading books while she's in school sounds heavenly right about now) but that I'd be open to trying it when she's at home. I'll have to report back on what we do there. I think it will most likely be a screen-minimum week that has exceptions for things like:
- Family movie night
- Texting with her friends' parents about playdates
- Taking photos with my iPhone
But if you ask me, screen minimum sounds pretty good, too. The more I read about kids and screens (and reading about topics that I'm interested in is what I do), the more I want to keep my daughter off of them as much as possible (and myself, too). More on that another time, but I refer you to Be the Parent, Please: Stop Banning Seesaws and Start Banning Snapchat by Naomi Schaefer Riley and Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids - and How to Break the Trance by Nicholas Kardaras.
For right now I am cherishing the fact that my daughter has (somewhat anyway) absorbed the idea that HER time is better spent reading, writing, drawing, and playing than sitting around tapping away on a tablet. I love the fact that she feels the need to encourage this sentiment in her parents. Oh, she still watched more movies on her tablet than I would have liked during a recent long car ride to the Sierras. And she still sometimes gets sucked down the rabbit hole things like of making memojis on my cell phone. Just as I occasionally find myself scrolling down the Facebook wall. But we're trying. This Saturday afternoon, even without a contest, we spent some time in matching recliners each reading our respective (print) books, without a device in sight. And I was content.
Thanks for reading!
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