We are Screen-Free in Our House!


Unused, but not unloved television

The past few weeks have been generally stressful in our household for a number of reasons. Despite this we decided to press on with the plan to seriously limit the children’s screen time. For one thing the endless noise of either Minecraft Youtube videos or action movies/ Scooby Doo was literally driving me to distraction.

It has been a hard few weeks for the children as they have literally had to go cold turkey on this one. Its mean quite a lot of shouting, pleading and tantruming. I’ve found adopting a sort of indifferent ‘i’m not listening’ approach has really worked. They simply find its not worth the effort.

The results have been amazing though and although this was only intended to be a stop gap measure I’m seriously thinking I might make it long term with Friday Movie night being their main opportunity to indulge in screen time. There has been a marked increase in reading and an interest in the books which are about the house. I’ve had to clear away piles of toys from the living room and freshly constructed spaceship, dens and caves. Alongside the shouting and fighting there has been more dancing, playing, role playing and conversation.

Cat in Box

The makeshift garage invented for Batman’s vehicles and enjoyed by a cat…

Overall, I think its a very positive thing. I must admit like everyone else I do tend to use screen time for a bit of babysitting whilst i’m getting on with jobs but now my children are older they don’t need ‘something’ they are perfectly able to entertain themselves. This has been a hard habit to break for me as much as for the children. For us, this sort of cold turkey approach worked best, to try to limit it to stretches of time would not have worked. My children can be very good at arguing their points and its hard not to see their reasoning, this way we cant get into those arguments.

What next?

I’m considering a token based approach where they get a token worth ten minutes in exchange for a good deed, chore, or good work/ effort in something. A bit like a sticker system. However, i’m a bit unsure how in practical terms this can work without me having to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the length of TV programmes. So for the moment i’m going to stick with it as we are and make friday night screen time.

I’d be interested to hear what you think. Have you done this? Is this the approach you’d take? Do you have any tips to share?

1 Response

  1. alison.cobb@mac.com 19th June 2015 / 7:33 am

    I didn’t have television as a child until I came back to live in England aged 10, and it was black and white, children’s programmes were few and far between. Fast forward to my own family, we didn’t have a television in any of our family rooms, it was in our bedroom and so the children never actually got to watch TV until they were 10 when we moved to our current house where we had a TV room built. What a disaster, we ALL became addicted to our at the time ‘state of the art TV’ purchased from John Lewis after afters of perusing all the extras that you would never use, and paying some £1800 18 years ago! All other family things immediately went out the window such as playing board games, Mahjong, scrabble and Cleudo. It was awful, in the space of 6 weeks we became glued to the box!

    Enough, I cried, this is dreadful, and we then instigated a rule of no TV in daylight hours, which in the summer was easy to instigate, by the time winter came, they were so used to not being able to have the box on, they never asked and we had got back into the family table discussions and playing games at the table. No one has ever been allowed to eat anywhere other than at the dining table, so staying there to chat is normal for us. I have never eaten a meal in front of the TV yet, it is just wrong!

    The result is neither of my children have had TV in their homes until their late 20’s and like us probably watch about 2-3 hours a weeks, mainly the news and the odd Netflix box set binge. We have never had, gaming systems, x box, consoles etc, it makes me shudder when I hear my female friends talk about the amount of time their husbands or partners spend on the X box, into the small hours, no wonder some of them are complain about living celibate lives! Romance for them is definitely dead.

    I do not allow childminded children to watch TV either, they get far too much at home, and I can’t stand the drivel that is churned out for gullible young minds.

    Television has it’s place, but it is the last thing we turn to for entertainment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *