Going Screen Free

Every Friday we will share some ideas on how to improve your family values or life. The hope is that as you end a busy week and enter the weekend with your family that you can reflect on these ideas and connect as a family through them. If you ever come across something you think would be great to share, please share with us on our Contact Us page: 

Radio silence. Screen Free. Dead air. Screen out. Off the radar. TV Turn-off. That is what I have been trying to practice for at least 2 hours a day for the last 2 weeks. I got the idea of Screen Free from my friend, Lisa, and her great experience for Screen Free Week this year. She blogged about it and never really made a big deal about it but I noticed it just in her online presence and her references of her life during that week in subsequent conversations.

Since April when she mentioned she participated I’ve been thinking about trying to go screen free at some point. You see I am addicted to my phone and computer and it used to not be that way. I had an email account and would check it and would sometimes browse the web but that was about it. My husband literally begged me to open a Facebook account because he felt it would help me with some social anxieties I have (the “nobody likes me” syndrome). So Summer of 2007 I created an account and the addiction started slowly. I would get a friend here, and a friend there. I would meet someone new and connect better with them over the mutual posts that we shared on our walls. And it grew and grew; I started to join groups, some secret and some not, and started following that person and next thing you know it is midnight and I sat down at 9pm to balance our checkbook and I haven’t even opened up Quicken.
This has been a regular occurrence, and now my husband has been asking me more and more “PUT THE PHONE DOWN!” Even my kids have felt the effects of my phone addiction because if they see my phone laying around they bring it to me and try to turn it on. So during our Family Day recently, I went Screen Free while we enjoyed our day….and I liked it! So every day since then I have committed to 2 hours of screen free time.
Here are some things I have learned:
        My kids play better when I am screen free. Mostly because I am present and interactive with them, but I also think because they see I am doing things other than just cleaning.
        I feel happier. Yes, I might not know that so-and-so’s baby rolled over or that there was a government shut-down but I do know that my kids LOVE to play with Mardi Gras beads and crack up laughing as they try to put them around each other’s necks.
        My house is just as messy.
        I’ve become more focused in my discipline and parenting. Since I am on the floor, interacting with my children, I can see when conflict is about to happen and intervene. But I also am more connected with them, so when I say something, they are listening and connecting with me just as much.
        My marriage is more connected. I have tried to keep the phone out of my hands when my husband comes home from work so we can engage and discuss days, but also feed our children and participate in bedtime routine together. I feel we have talked more in the last couple of weeks than the previous weeks.
        I save money. Seriously! I am on a couple of garage sale/Craig’s list kind of groups and I used to scout them like a hawk. Now, I’m like “Oh bummer, that is cute. I’m glad Jenni got it instead!”
        I’m connecting with friends in other ways. I’ve actually TALKED on the PHONE more in the past 2 weeks than I think I have in 4 months with other people. Today I had an HOUR conversation with a friend supporting her in some needs and it felt good to talk and not just write out an email and psychoanalyze the email, I said what was on my mind and I think (hope) I helped her.
        I still LOVE my technology. Especially this blog writing which has gone missing since I am now catching up instead of writing. So I need to find that balance again.
Our Family Friday challenge is to go Screen Free! Try it for a day, a couple of hours, a week! Whatever you are comfortable with and think would work within your family. Make it a family challenge or a personal challenge and see how it affects your family.
Have you ever gone Screen Free? How did it affect your relationships? If you take the challenge, what do you hope to gain by it? After you have gone screen free, what reflections did you come across about it?



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