Our screen free summer is now well underway, and I’m just finding time to write about it. And I’m writing quickly. Summer is busy! Day 41: It hasn’t been airtight screen free, but I’m happy to say it’s been pretty close! We launched Screen Free Summer right as we left for an awesome trip to Grand Canyon and Zion with family friends. That week away, nobody seemed fazed by not having screens.*
- To recap, 14 year old girl DOES still have a phone this summer, but like mine, it’s been stripped down to a real “toolkit” vibe. Music, Audible, Calendar, Netflix, text, calls. No internet. No Snapchat, which she’d previously been using.
- 13 year old boy still has his Apple watch. He’s able to play music into headphones and text/ call.
- Kids watching TV like it’s 1987. A lot. A LOT OF TV. I might write a post later about the reasons I’m fine with this. But just to be clear, we have absolutely replaced some of our vegging with iPads/ iPhone with vegging in front of TV.
Anyway, okay, week one — no problem. Kids were surrounded by other kids, having fun, and we were on the move seeing beautiful places. I was basically giving myself a lot of back pats. It was our first day BACK from the trip, Day 8, that hit us hard. Day 9 and Day 10 also NOT awesome. The people were angry. Tired, back at home, kids naturally wanted to fall back into the habits of zoning out on their devices. Fought hard to get through those few days back on the ground. These days required some extra elbow grease as a parent. I got through it by inviting a lot of friends over, which I realize for various reasons not everybody can easily do. But that’s what worked here — extra in person time with friends. Some activities, too. Television and movies. Some extra family time. A trip to our local book store, time in the aisles at Target. Some shopping with the 14 year old. Nutshell, unspoken bribery. Which is also not something every single person or family can do. Just reporting the facts. We got through it! The kids seemed to accept that the plan was firm and I wasn’t going to cave. (Apparently, this is what happens when the plan remains firm and I don’t cave. Who knew?) Also, to be clear, we haven’t been totally airtight. 14 year old girl went to tennis camp; we reactivated her SnapChat the last day so she could stay connected with friends she met there.
Likewise, she went back on the app for her close friend’s birthday, to show her friend some love there.
This on-off switch was really easy to do using Qustodio. 11 year old girl felt called to document the before and after of getting braces and text photos to her friends. Fine. And I’ve added Chrome back onto my phone a few times when I really NEEDED to check something and couldn’t make it to computer at home. Has anything changed as the result of going off screens? Inconclusive re: our 14 year old. I honestly don’t know if this is doing anything in her life. But she’s not complaining, which I find interesting. She’s lost access to Snapchat and anything online, and I haven’t heard a thing about it. She seems to be fine just texting, and she’s spending a good amount of time in person with friends. Overall, I’d say it hasn’t seemed like a big deal for her. The biggest change has been for our 13 year old son. Minecraft and YouTube videos about Minecraft REALLY do it for this guy, to the point where no other plan could compete. Very little came close to the pleasure he got from holing up in his room and zoning out on this stuff. So this change for him was pretty major. His screen time was HIGH. It has been been, without question, the BEST THING EVER to make a firm decision to take him off screens for summer. My husband and I have looked at each other several times and said, “We have him back.” He’s so much more engaged with the family. He’s doing more, connecting more, socializing more. Making more mistakes. He’s daydreaming. The craziest thing is, I think he may be relieved. A little relieved. He would 100 percent take the iPad back tomorrow. But I see relief mixed in as well. Anyway, from where we stand on Day 41, this is all feeling like a YES to me. Reach out to me if you want moral support trying it yourself. I’m happy to chat. This felt like a lot to take on, but now it feels pretty natural.