As I mentioned in my introduction to the Childhood Unplugged Project, the decision for a screen-free month hasn’t been made on a whim.
For the last ten years I have been wanting to limit, reduce or even completely remove technology from our home.
Despite my intentions, as the kids have grown (they are currently 12, 9 & 5), the tech has gradually increased.
This has happened for a few reasons:
- I respect the connection my husband has to games and film, as well as his ability to bond with our boys during game play.
- We are homeschoolers and we have trialled Dr Peter Gray’s unschooling theories on game play in our home.
- Life has been busy at times and we have fallen back on those classic babysitters at times when we have been unable to engage.
- The boys’ friends also love games, youtube, and all other screen based activities, so we have allowed them also, as a means of social capital.
So what has changed? Are these things no longer important?
I’ll respond to each of the points as numbered above:
- I still respect my husband’s preferences, but after thorough talks over the last few weeks we have acknowledged that the children will connect with him on anything (weightlifting, drumming, shovelling mulch into the garden beds, literally anything!). Following on from that discovery, I am hoping that distance from screens will inspire all of them to find new and productive activities to engage in together.
- My experience, and that of our friends has seen very little success in regards to the unschooling theory on gaming and screens. The theory (simply put) is that the kids will eventually tire of whatever game they are playing, then go off and engage in something else. But our experience is that there is always a new game, app or youtuber to absorb yourself in so this rarely plays out in practice. Information from tech industry insiders suggests that the apps and games your children interact with (and those you use too) are designed to keep you there in front of the screen for as long as possible. Kids and parents have enough challenges, without having to battle their recreation activities as well!
- Life is still busy. At this stage I am homeschooling, studying full time and hoping to pick up a casual job as well. Life will always be busy. What I’m hoping to do is raise resilient and creative children who can happily amuse themselves and engage in activity without my input. I also think life is busy for us because we, as parents, lose so much time in the void that is social media. By limiting my own use, I free up time for connecting with my family.
- My kids’ friends are a creative bunch and it won’t take much for them to engage with activities other than games. I actually predict that my kids will increase their social capital due to the increase in their capacity for creativity as a direct result of all their free time. Their creativity will make them more appealing to their peers.
I’ll leave it here for today and in the next post I’ll give you a bit more insight to the events that made this decision easy.