It was Time for a Technology Reset
At the end of our school year this spring I kept hearing "When is it time to watch cartoons?" and by the time one of my children was upset because "We didn't watch any TV today!" I knew it was time for a technology reset.
For one month we didn't watch any tv except for a weekly family movie. I wasn't allowed to be on my phone or computer except during my designated "office hours" and my husband and I vowed to cut back on screen time after the kids went to sleep. As someone whose entire job revolves around my phone and computer I knew this was going to be hard!
What I've Learned From a Month With No Screens
Well, the biggest thing I learned is that I am way more addicted to my screens than my children are to theirs. I found it super difficult to stay off of my phone in moments of boredom or lulls in our day. It was challenging to not pick up my phone immediately after I thought of something ("Oh, I should text her!" or "I need to add that to the grocery list") and many times I failed at this. Worse yet, I would get sucked into checking notifications as soon as I picked up my phone and totally violate my office hours commitment.
My kids had a tricky time the first few days, but then adapted, no problem! It helps that the weather has been beautiful and that there was a family movie to look forward to at the end of the week. I did find them listening to their Yoto player more than they had been, and honestly, we're still trying to figure out if that counts in some way because it is passive entertainment (I guess that goes for me too and all of the audiobook listening I do)!
Our family found that not using screens gave us more connection time. We've been making good use of it, getting outside and going on late afternoon adventures when we might have been watching an hour or so of television together.
What helped me most was putting on the Personal setting on my phone during my office hours, so that no notifications would come through. I also carried around a small notebook so that when ideas popped into my head of things I needed to use my phone for I could jot them down and tackle them all at once during my office hours.
As far as boredom, I found myself reading physical books more, being in the present moment more and experiencing feelings of relaxation. I still have a long way to go to be truly free from my phone, but this was an eye opening experience and one I will come back to again!
What Screen Time Looks Like Moving Forward
I have definitely enjoyed having set perimeters on work hours and will continue to enforce these as much as I can, especially using the personal setting to turn off notifications.
As a family, we will be continuing to do some sort of family movie night and less of screen time daily. It was so fun to pick and share in a movie together (rather than using tv as a babysitter) and we found so much to fill our afternoon times other than tv! I'm sure when it's the dead of winter we will reassess, but for now, it's been nice having the screens off. Summer has felt like the best time to do this reset because there is more to do outside!
Helpful Books on Managing Technology
If you're interested in reading more about technology use, here are a few books I have read and loved!