The Seven Stages of Screen-Free Time


My kids are addicted, plain and simple. 

As much as we try to limit screen time, there is just some siren song that electronics use to call to our children.  But life is best enjoyed outside the box, outside of the little flickering screens that suck us in.  And so, “screen-free time” is a thing in our house. 

But it doesn’t come without it’s challenges. 

The first thing we here is that “there’s nothing to do”, and then they progress through several stages until they finally reach a place of acceptance and actually enjoy themselves.  Here’s how it usually goes:

Stage One: Shock & Denial

“What?  You never told us we weren’t going to be able to watch TV!”

Stage Two: Anger

“My friends get to play video games ALL DAY!  You NEVER let us play ALL DAY!”

Stage Three: Arguing

“Screen time is good for us.  It teaches us hand/eye coordination, strategy skills and decision-making.” or “You said no screens, but you didn’t say anything about the computer.  It has a monitor, not a screen.”

Stage Four: Bargaining

“How about we play for just 15 more minutes?  THEN we’ll do whatever you want.  How about we do the recycling after we’re finished playing for 30 more minutes?”

Stage Five: Depression

The kids drape themselves on the couch, doing their best to look dejected and sad.

Stage Six: Acceptance

“We’ll never get to watch TV again … oh well.  I guess that’s what you get for having parents who “care”.  Let’s go find something to do …”

Stage Seven: Enjoyment

The kids disappear and I don’t hear from them again until their voices drift up from the basement or the bedrooms or the backyard.  Sometimes they end up sword fighting with those huge sticks they’ve collected in the backyard.  Sometimes they’re describing elaborate scenarios involving futuristic star ships, and sometimes they’re drawing those imaginings out.  Once in awhile one kid will get annoyed with another one and a squabble ensues, but that quickly dissipates and they continue in their game.  And then they end up quite enjoying their games until they get hungry or until it’s time to head to bed.

It’s easy to give in during one of the first six steps, but when I don’t, they end up having so much fun!  It’s not that common to find  a 15, 13, and 8 year old playing together, but when it happens, it’s a great thing!

What do the kids in your life enjoy doing the most?  Do they play together well?



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