Over the last several weeks we noticed that our three kids were spending more and more time on their electronics, mostly playing games and watching videos. It just seemed to become a constant thing and we were feeling like crummy parents over it. The whole “limiting screen time” thing is something we’d really like to happen. But when you have three kids that are going all different directions all day, it is impossible for a parent, or a child for that matter, to keep track of and document screen time every day. Just doesn’t work.
Recently my husband Nathan said to me, “Do you think we should just say no to video games for a while?” I was quick to jump on board. We loved the fact that we were about to start Easter Week and our time of “no games” could correspond.
On Palm Sunday morning, I sat the kids down to explain to them what we wanted to start for the next seven days. I told them that no one was in trouble at all, but that we’d noticed that video games and idle time on electronics had become too big of a focus. I told them that we wanted to do somewhat of a “reset” and spend the next week without video games, youtube videos and other electronic time-sucks. The older two would still have their phones for texting and calling, but no games. (They don’t text much anyway. It’s mostly with us.) Everyone could still use the computer and school ipads for homework and we could watch television together, but that was all.
I was shocked that all three of them listened and then said okay. No one huffed, eye-rolled or acted irritated. No one asked a lot of questions like they were planning to try to get by with technicalities.
And all week it was never an issue. I didn’t find anyone breaking the rule. No one snuck around or complained. Two of my kids spent a lot more time reading. There was more conversation in the car. And my son Samuel told me he was surprised that he didn’t really miss it. On Good Friday, I smiled to myself as I heard the three kids playing a card game upstairs together.
Now the “electronic reset” is over. The kids have no restrictions, and my son was back to playing a game in the car on the way to school today. I’m not sure what the long-term results will be, if any. But I hope that we will be more thoughtful about finding better balance. And I hope that the kids are learning that in life, sometimes things get out of balance and you may need to force yourself to reset and re-evaluate: your diet, your spending, and other things that become habits and patterns.