Media Detox

I thought our little family was doing pretty darn good when it came to moderating screen time.

I mean, I have always been very intentional about our kids and TV viewing; and up until this past Christmas no one owned any handheld gaming device or iPad. My iPhone is still relatively new to me and I never seemed to mind not knowing what was waiting for me in my inbox until I got home.

Fast forward a few months and our family has officially entered the 21st century.

We are in it deep. Screens surround us. We’re connected wherever we go.

The convenience and immediacy of it is amazing. Don’t get me wrong. There is no going back. But, I’m struggling to find that balance. For sure. And, the fact that I have to set timers for my kids so they know when the iPad must be closed, or when it’s time to stop watching hulu on my iPhone…I know we’ve drifted off course somehow.

And I’m no better. Checking facebook, twitter, and my e-mail whenever and wherever…it’s addicting.

Sure I have some hard and fast rules for our kids like no TVs or screens of any kind in the bedroom. The dinner table is absolutely off limits to any electronic device. We aim to limit total screen time to no more than 2 hours a day and are big believers in commercial free and age appropriate programming.

Some days we come out ahead, and some days…well, turning on the tube/iPad/computer/iPhone is all I can do to sneak in some exercise or make dinner in peace.

I’m definitely a huge believer in moderation.

Still…I can’t help but think this little family of ours needs some media detox. I’ve been starting to feel that pang of connected but disconnected. And anyone on any type of social media space knows what I mean when I say that.

So, when I heard about Screen-Free Week coming up on April 30th, the hubs and I thought this would be the perfect time to do just that.

Media detox.

Quite honestly, the thought of it gives me palpitations. I don’t want to. But I do.

When I broke the news to Big Brother, I’m not kidding…his eyes filled with tears as he asked incredulously…for 7 whole days?!?

Yeah…we need that detox.

Little Sister was more concerned about  missing her beloved Doc McStuffins for a whole week and who can blame her? I love that show too.

What I hope to find at the end of that week is clarity. Though I have a feeling I already know what I’ll find.


Time to go on after dinner walks. Time to play some board games and read books. Time spent in the backyard while I make dinner. Time talking in the car instead of Big Brother on his DSi or Little Sister on my iPhone.

So as much as I’m dreading this upcoming screen-free week that will start two weeks from today…I know it’s exactly what we need to get us back on track.

Because all the connectedness in the world won’t mean much to me if I’m disconnected from those I love the most.

What’s the longest amount of time you’ve gone dark for? Do you think you and your family could do Screen-Free Week?

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15 Responses to Media Detox
  1. Practical Parenting
    April 16, 2012 | 8:01 am

    I have my kids on such a media schedule that they don’t even ask! I’ve never had them go totally dark bc I think they benefit from a little but of zone out time (and I need to take a shower). But after they’re sick I always go bare minimum for three days and that breaks the habit. Mine really don’t ask for game time, they get iPad time twice a week, but they are younger.

  2. Rusti
    April 16, 2012 | 8:10 am

    I’m whining already about Hubs having taken my laptop with him for two weeks of training (he left last night) which is probably a bad sign – although when he IS home either he is using it and our toddler is watching some Disney channel show, or he’s watching sports and she’s watching Disney on the laptop, so really – I was just looking forward to being able to use it 😉 We try to limit Goose’s screen time, she gets to watch 1 show in the mornings after she’s ready for daycare while I get ready for work, and some nights she gets to watch while I’m making dinner… we don’t have a dining room, and we have a tiny kitchen, so our meals are eaten in the living room – almost always with the TV on… I’d like to change that but that’s the way Hubs was raised, so we’ll see… maybe when we move into a house with enough room for a dining table it’ll be a little easier…

    sorry for the blog post in your comments!!

    good luck to your family with the detox :)

    • Rusti
      April 16, 2012 | 8:12 am

      oops – I meant to say that her “1 show” in the evenings is often stretched into 2… sometimes 3 or 4 if we’re trying to get something done that we need her to be occupied for… we also got her a LeapPad for Christmas, but at least the games she has are educational-ish :)

    • Nell
      January 23, 2014 | 4:26 pm

      altho you wrote in ’12, I just had to comment that truly rethink

      having dinner nightly with the tv on. Been there, not a good thing

      as this is the time of day to connect with your loved ones, not

      connect with the box or the pc. My husband said the same as yours,

      it was fine for him so its fine for the whole family. Wrong!!

      Rethink this deeply as the future happiness and development of your family depends on having screen free time exp. during dinner!

      Good Luck, be strong and know your gut is right on this topic.

      ~ Nell

  3. Elizabeth Flora Ross
    April 16, 2012 | 12:45 pm

    We were doing so well, but lately we have fallen into some bad habits. And Katie makes a great point above. When my daughter is sick, we have a lot of screen time. Getting back out of that habit is tough.

    My big thing is meal time. That is family time. Talking time. Not screen time. But lately my 3yo whines that she wants to “watch.” And I had to get on hubby the other night for checking FB at the table. That is sacred time, and I am prepared to fight tooth and nail for it. 😉

    At the same time, I let her watch PBS during breakfast. It is the ONLY way I can get ready to get out the door. So I can see why she asks for it at dinner. It’s a complicated problem. One I have yet to solve entirely.

    I use computer time as a reward. My daughter loves to get on and play educational games. She can earn 30 minutes daily with good behavior. And it’s a win/win as far as I am concerned. She’s learning to read and spell and do math. And I get 30 minutes to do something I need to do.

    Now, could we all go screen free entirely for a week? I doubt it. But you have inspired me to work hard to make some positive changes in our household. Thanks!

  4. Craig Canapari
    April 17, 2012 | 8:49 am

    We will be praying for you. . .

    In all seriousness, I think this is a great idea. We sometimes fret in my household about my older son’s love affair with Angry Birds, but we are certainly on our screens all the time. Perhaps you could tweet how it’s going. Oh wait, that doesn’t work. Send a postcard!

  5. cathy
    April 17, 2012 | 9:40 am

    We do a screen free week once or twice a year, and it’s fantastic. The kids step up to the challenge and have fun with it. We all enjoy our screen time when we get it back, but during that week, the focus is on play and other forms of entertainment without any distraction even from the thought of watching TV.

  6. Kasey
    April 17, 2012 | 11:19 am

    This would be tough but it’s a great idea. I sometimes find that we aren’t really in the moment because we’re looking down at our fancy phones. There are times that I realize that we’re watching entirely too much tv and I know we need to cut back. That’s when I try to get outside because it’s the one place there is no tv. It’s hard though when some type of screen is always available. I bet you’ll make some great memories that week though!

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  8. Adriel
    April 18, 2012 | 10:53 pm

    good luck! we recently had a week off and it was great! it helps to go somewhere though – we were camping! much harder to do at home!! (didn’t even have phone service – totally liberating!) :)

  9. Stefanie
    April 19, 2012 | 7:07 pm

    We are, in a sense, having media detox right now. Life is so busy that we don’t get a chance to watch our shows or be online as often. And, really, that’s how it should be! We’re living!

  10. Liz Slater
    April 22, 2012 | 7:07 pm

    My daughters’ school held Screen Free Week a couple of weeks early. As Co-chair of the organizing committee, I figured I should do my best to walk the walk. I hate to admit that while my kids had no problem, it was harder for me than I had expected.

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