Screen Free Kids


Screen free: I know it’s unheard of with screens even at gas station to entertain us while we pump gas. Screens are everywhere! Over a year ago we significantly cut down our daughter’s screen time. We have weaned it down to practically zero.

It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.

She was like any other kid who wanted to watch her favorite Netflix shows and I used it to occupy her so I could get things done. It was our babysitter so we could cook, clean and shower since she was little. I don’t really know how I would have coped if we had gone screen free when she was younger, but we are making it now.

She doesn’t play video games. She has a tablet that I turn on for music, audio books, and video her singing. Audiobooks are our new TV; we use them for long road trips or just winding down time. She loves them as much as screen time, but they stimulate her brain in a much healthier way. I purchase some from Audible and we have Alexa, who our daughter can ask to play her book. No screen involved. I also use OverDrive App to borrow audiobooks from the library.

Listening to her book and drawing.

A screen free life is not for everyone; my husband and I still use our smartphones too much and indulge in Hulu nightly. But I want my kiddo to be better than me and less addicted to technology.

I have not come up with a solution for school testing though. I know a lot of tests will be on a computer and I want her to have the hand-eye coordination to excel. But where is the line or balance? I don’t have that one figured out yet. Possibly small increments daily. 

My daughter has a reaction after being on a screen — her mood and attitude change.

It doesn’t matter the content and it happens every time. Twice a month or so we do a family movie night where we sit down and watch a movie together. She goes to bed right after so we don’t have to deal with too much consequence. It is also an incentive to make good choices in school and at home.

Restaurants and engagements with other families have been difficult on us and Karin. Kids now have their own phone or tablet, or ask for their parents’ phones and they are entertained. Karin then feels left out often. In those moments it’s very difficult not to give in and say have my phone. I tend to engage with her more or give her alternative activities like drawing or playing with magna tiles. It does take my attention off the grown-ups, but my daughter comes first always. Trips to other people’s homes are also tough when the kids are playing video games or watching their tablet and she can’t participate. When she is left alone in those situations I resort to the audio book. 

Magna-tile creation during brunch.

It is a difficult journey and for the most part she handles it in stride, better then I would at 7 years of age. It helps to have friends who support our beliefs and have their children put away their screens when we are around.

I wish this parenting thing came with a manual, but we are making it up as we go along.