Are You Up to the Tech-Free Challenge?
Many of us are worried about how much screen time children are getting. And our concern is not unwarranted. Studies on child behavior, wellness, and learning show that excessive screen time negatively affects children, as this New York Times article demonstrates. But part of the issue here is the way we, as adults, model technology use. When we pull out our smart phones at dinner, check email and Facebook in the doctor's waiting room, and spend our evenings hunched over our laptops, children see this.
And when we ask them to put away their phone or tablet, they wonder why we don't do the same. Child development experts recommend we all set boundaries around our screen time. Suggestions include no phones, computers, or televisions in the bedroom; not using devices at meal times; and even taking a technology fast every once in a while to “reset.”
Since most of us are so used to having our devices with us, these kinds of suggestions can feel overwhelming. One way to ease into a less device-addicted lifestyle is to try a one-day technology break. Admittedly, my own brief pondering around this idea brings up a little bit of panic. What will I do if I get bored? What if someone calls or texts me? How would I listen to music when all I have are MP3s on my phone and computer? So here's what I came up with: on Sunday, November 1 is the time change. What if we all agreed, for the daylight hours of that day, that we would turn off and put away our phones, computers, and tablets and do other activities instead? We could:
1. Cook a meal together with our family.
2. Go for a hike.
3. Visit the ocean.
4. Break out the boardgames gathering dust in the closet.
5. Start reading a book (bonus points for reading the book aloud together).
6. Play a sport.
7. Take a walk around the neighborhood and notice the season’s change.
9. Visit a museum.
10. Do an art project.
Remember, you would only need to stay away from your devices from the time you wake up until around 5 pm when the sun goes down.
So what do you say? Are you with me? Email me and let me know if you are in!