Last Friday I started an experiment. I unplugged the monitor for the family-pc and put it away.
I had tried just turning beast off, but Whinnie knows how to turn it on, and how to open the DVD drive. And did. Repeatedly.
So on Friday afternoon, after a failed attempt at getting Whinnie into a nap, I decided (some might say snapped) that we needed a no-screen week.
The boys, increasingly, want to veg-out at the computer, watching whatever eye-candy they can find. Whinnie just wants to watch movies like the Aristocats non-stop. None of this is good when it overwhelms your experience of life, or ability to do anything else.
The attachlings were off doing their own thing when I took the monitor away. And I will say that I am proud of myself that I didn’t do it in an angry way, nor was there a lecture about it. Quietly, without notice, the screen just left.
I was most concerned about how Whinnie would respond. Two-year-olds are not known for their well-modulated responses to anything. 😀
So I sat with my knitting and waited for IT to come. Eventually, more than an hour later, Whinnie wandered in to the room, noticed the monitor was missing and said, “OH!” whilst pointing at the hole and looking at me. I said something like, ‘um hmmm…’ and she accepted that the screen was gone and went back to playing.
Later the boys noticed and asked what had happened.
“We’re taking a break from screen time,” I said.
“Why? How long?” they queried.
“Not sure…at least a week,” was my calm reply.
“Ok,” and off they went to play.
Several times Nic has mentioned that he can’t wait until they get the screen back. But they’ve not whined or tantrumed about it.
Whinnie, who I thought would be livid, has accepted it too. She has played more, and with greater imagination and creativity, than she did before.
So I spend time today thinking about what will happen tomorrow.
I said a week, at least. Now what do I say? I have seen a vast improvement in the way they play and the way we all relate in this week. But is that reason enough to keep the screen turned off and tucked away?
I’ve also tried to model responsible screen-time for them. I’ve been turning my laptop off and using it only for quick email-checks during the day, whilst they are otherwise occupied.
And that is the point to the experiment for me. Learning that all things need balance. Learning that there are other things to do than ‘click and check out.’
If it were just the boys, I’d probably give them a limit, like an hour a day, and then plug the screen back in and not worry about it. But Whinnie is a different situation. Honestly, I don’t want her sitting and looking at a screen at all…and yet she’s the one who will attempt to watch movies all day long.
Not sure what the solution is yet…but this week of screen-free-attachlings has been awesome. It has showed me that they can be just fine without the screen and that, no, they won’t drive me nutty. In fact, they were far more self-occupying without the crutch of screen-time.
Off to think and knit,