Being screen free with our children is a constant choice. Screens are a huge part of our society, they’re the reason you can read this very article. The choice to allow children to use screens in the home is the parent’s discretion, but I do believe as parents we should be thoughtful with how we use them.
In our home, we are not the screen police. We simply do not make screens a part of our daily schedule in our kid’s lives. At the age, my children are at they do not need to be on the computer for any reason in our home. My eldest son would only need the computer for school-related work. My children do not have any electronic devices and I have no intention of them having any unless it becomes necessary for schooling.
Do my kids sometimes get to watch a movie? Yes. Will they be allowed to play an age-appropriate video game at a friend’s house? Sure. My biggest desire is not for my kids to be against screens, it is for my children to know life without them. Here are some of my reasons for choosing screen free in our home.
Screen Free Promotes Creativity
Having my kids be screen free enhances their creativity. There are some very fun shows that have certain creative aspects. In fact, my eldest son loves to learn how to draw from a kids art youtube channel. However; I began to realize that though these shows can be fun for the kids and give them new ideas, their creativity was lessened.
For example with the art videos, my son was limited in what he thought he could draw. Instead of sitting down with pen and paper to think of what he wanted to draw he was scrolling through Youtube hoping something would stand out. He was confined to what Youtube told him he could draw, instead of what he truly desired to draw. Taking the screen out of the picture freed him to draw anything.
Screen Free Encourages Communication
Many people will tell you the best thing you can do is talk with your kids. Have you ever tried talking to a kid watching a tv show? Their eyes glazed over glued on the screen and they answer you without the slightest turn of the head. Screens do not promote communication.
The time that my children spend in front of a screen, is time that I do not have their attention. Trust me most times I don’t want their attention. I just want to go to the bathroom without hearing the handle jingle or someone (man or child) knocking on the door needing something. But the truth is my kids benefit so much when I have to pay attention to them.
Instead of plopping my children in front of the tv (which I got rid of, more about that in a future post), I am forced to turn their desire to talk and be entertained in a different direction. One great way is reading books. Books entertain, teach, and promote creativity.
When it comes to books the key is to find books you and your children enjoy. You will be more likely to read to your kids if you like the books you have around you. I hide books I do not like and then donate or trash them depending on their condition.
Being screen free gives my children more opportunities to communicate with me throughout the day.
Kids Learn to Entertain Themselves
If you have ever babysat a child who is used to constantly being entertained you know how exhausting it is. Being a mother is exhausting without the added need for constant entertainment, so this is a huge benefit of no screens. Screentime provides a type of entertainment that requires no effort of the child or the parent besides pushing a button.
Making our home a place where screen time is not incorporated into our daily routine promotes our children to learn to self-entertain. Instead of watching a show in the morning, my daughter can play magna-tiles or blocks if my husband and I sleep in. When my younger two are napping and my eldest wants to do something he can read a book or do a project that would be hard to do with two toddlers trying to get into everything.
When out and about it makes sense to want to put a screen right in front of the kids and keep them entertained. As much as I would love to walk through a store with perfectly quiet angels, my priority is to teach my children to have patience. I want my kids to have respect for others in the store, including their mother. Sometimes my children do wonderfully and other times I look like I am some sort of circus manager and that’s okay too. The main thing is I am providing my children with skills to self entertain and not relying on a device to keep them calm while out and about.
Screen Free Helps Me Be a Better Parent
Being screen free with my children helps me to be a better mother. Before I took away our tv I found myself trying to use television as a tool to distract my children. I would spend time setting up a show just to have my kids running back to me five minutes later. (probably because I would try to put on some old school Mr. Rogers Neighborhood instead of Baby Shark). My kids love baby shark… (pro tip: just hide the screen and dance with them).
I have more patience for my children when I do not have a quick fix. My parenting has to be more intentional. Daily tasks become a group effort and I bring my children into the work I am doing. Screen free helps me to be more attentive to my children and makes me a better parent.
Screen Free Prevents Subliminal Messages
The world we live in is corrupt. I am sure there are great shows out there. There are a lot of really terrible shows too. Kids are sponges and I want my children to form their worldview outside of the television. Learning to seek out knowledge and truth from books, conversations with people, and observation is far more valuable than just believing what they learned from the tv.
Screens have the power to teach children what to believe, they also encourage unhealthy habits like consumerism. As a “recovering” (i.e.: I’m working on it) emotional shopper, I want better for my children. Marketers should not be telling my kids what they need. Screen free helps me regulate what my children learn to be true of the world around them.
Screen Free Promotes Physical Activity
Physical activity is so important for children. Taking screens out of the picture provides a great opportunity to redirect energy to outdoor play. I find this especially helpful with my eldest child. My littles can still run around the house and get their energy out fairly easily indoors. However, my big boy can get a little more restless and I find sending him to ride his bike down our street is sometimes the perfect solution to his “boredom”. Plus he comes back with such a great attitude. Win win.
When my littles get restless, we can go play in the yard. Sometimes I muster the energy to go to the local park and they love that. Having to help my kids work through their restlessness helps me too. Sometimes I use that time to strap them into the stroller and have a walk to the grocery store to pick up something I need for dinner. So screen free helps me get some physical activity in too.
Screens are a part of our society. It is inevitable that our children will come to know and use screens in their lives. Being a screen free parent can be challenging in a world that tells us we need to use screens. If you want to make the step towards taking screens out of your child’s daily routine, you can do it.
Transitioning from using screens to taking them away will be challenging. Seek out help. Talk to like-minded parents and get advice on how they entertain their children. If you don’t have routines with your children start making some to help frame your day. Think of other activities your kids know and love to fill up the day. Keep positive, know your reason for being screen free and remind yourself of it when you are feeling like giving up. Screen free or not, let’s encourage one another to be intentional with our parenting. This pregnant mama needs all the encouragement she can get.
Did you grow up with a lot of screen time?
What is your philosophy for screen time in your home?
If you do use screens with your children, what are some of the beneficial things you use them for?
Leave a comment below.