Life with less screens

Here's an update on a fortnight with significantly reduced screen time.

Children numbers 2, 3, and 4 have suffered little withdrawal.  They have happily replaced screen time with a giant weekend long, Lego fest (see the photo), books, a two-hour Monopoly marathon, and lots of imaginary play.  Two of the kids went on a long bike-ride yesterday with Rowan - in the rain - quite an adventure.  There's just more time - they aren't trying to fit in all their Wii/TV/screen turns.

However ... the number 1, almost a teenager, child, is having some struggles and is politely protesting with well articulated arguments.  He and his friends at school have been discussing strategies to convince us to modify this 'radical, oppressive, overprotective' crackdown!  I respect a well thought out argument - we may modify it for him, to show that we're listening to him and willing to compromise.

The number 5 child is struggling too.  She gets tired so screen time is an easy fall back position for her when she can't work out what else to do.  Her creativity is quite high, but she runs out of ideas as she gets tired.  It's interesting though. When I consistently say no, even though she asks many times a day, she will eventually find something else to do.  It's tempting to give in when she asks - but I've been surprised how quickly she'll give up.  I think she's just checking again and again, to see if I still mean what I say.

I was encouraged when I was listening to the radio on my way to work on Thursday morning.  Talking about the obesity crisis, an expert said that children need 60 minutes of exercise a day.  That can be quite hard to get in a day when they are doing a lot of stuff before and after school.  However, turning the TV off helps - it just stops them from sitting in the one spot for a long time.

And as an aside, walking to and from school helps too - even when some are crying the whole way home because they are too 'tired' to walk.  Maybe crying burns up some calories!


Gordon Cheng said…
My youngest complains that she is too tired to walk, so I offer to carry her bag. When we make it up the hill she asks if we can run across the oval. When we make it up the next hill she asks if she can run down the hill. When I ask her to put her bag on a bit after the second run, she carries it for 50 metres and asks me to carry it again because her legs are hurting.

All very entertaining, and good exercise for me as well.
Kate Percival said…
We no longer have a TV licence, which helps enormously, automatically cutting out one screen. Now that I have two at secondary school the only screens allowed when they come home is the computer and that is for homework. Thursday afternoon is our screen afternoon because we are all tired and it just gets us through to the weekend. I am longing however for daylight after 5pm again so that we can all go to the park again.
Stephanie said…
Hi Jenny!
I know your sister and met your husband at NTE last year, so have been snooping on your blog for a while now. I love it! Thanks for your balance of fun and insightful posts!

In light of this post, I thought you might be interested in a recent interview with Dr Arch Hart from Fuller Seminary on "Thrilling ourselves to death" about our de-sensitisation to pleasure as a result of screen time. I can email you the transcript if you want, or you can download the audio here:
Deb L said…
Kate, I'm sorry if this is the world's silliest question but what on earth is a TV licence?
M said…
Hobby horse time. I think it is great to have less screen time and for the kids to be outside more, but please don't buy into the whole 'obesity crisis' thing:
Jenny said…
Hi Deb - TV license - in the UK you have to pay to be able to watch TV (buy a license).

Hi M - your comment is interesting - can you expand on your hobby horse bit more? Just curious.

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