When I mentioned Screen-Free Week to my 12 year-old son, his response was “Are you kidding me? That’s like Earth Hour BUT FOR A WHOLE WEEK!” The hardest part of Earth Hour for him isn't turning out the lights (Flashlights and candles? Awesome!) It’s about no Netflix or X-Box. Playing board games by candlelight is fun, but about the 45-minute mark everyone, including us grown-ups, is sneaking a peek at the clock (see My Plugged-In Family).
In our house, we’re going to try and modify Screen-Free Week and make it Screen-REDUCTION Week.
Here’s the plan:
1) Estimate CURRENT Screen Time. Check in with family members in advance, and ask everyone to ballpark how much time they spend on screens daily.
2) Monitor Screen Time BEFORE Screen-Free Week. Ask everyone to keep track of their screen time for a few days to see how realistic their estimate was. Make it like The Price Is Right and have a small prize for whoever makes the most accurate guess. Even if it’s an astonishing amount of time, at least they’re aware! Baby steps.
3) “But I’ll have nothing to do!” Brainstorm some ideas of things to do together as a family instead of all being on separate screens, as well as some individual activities. Board games? Bike ride? Family hike? Curling up with a book? Cleaning their room? Yeah, sneak that one in; it’s worth a shot.
4) Get commitments. Ask everyone to pick a goal, either time-based or otherwise, and WRITE IT DOWN. Our son has already committed to live without his X-box for the entire week. Have some kind of incentive for whoever achieves their goal. I’m totally motivated by rewards; my prize could be relaxing and reading magazines for a whole hour! Have the kids figure out what their reward will be, encouraging them to think of ones that cost very little, if anything.
5) Have Fun! This doesn't have to be a torturous week. Have your list of alternative activities handy. Make some Screen-Free signs with the kids and post them as little reminders (reduces the nag factor).
6) Follow-Up. After the week, sit down with everyone and find out how it went. Was it difficult? Easier than you thought? What were the positive things that happened? Will it change your behaviour moving forward?
Will you be participating in Screen-Free Week? Any ideas to share? Come back and leave a comment and let us know how it went!
About the Author:
Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.