Summer Screen Detox: Put the Devices Down!
“During a screen detox I arm myself with a thick skin, a heavy dose of patience and maybe a full box of wine"
Photo: Kim Fergus
We are on a technology detox. I’m tired and beat down by the 6:30am wake ups, sprints to be the first one on the (iPad, phone, computer, whatever) followed by 3 painful hours of arguments and fits and adult management of devices until the kids leave for school.
I slipped way too far down the path of least resistance the last few months of the school year- it’s easier to just let the kids have tech sometimes so I can be productive (or take a perceived break). But, that sometimes led to all the time and we saw and experienced behaviors in and outside the home we attribute to technology brain and the inability to cut ties and move on and engage (appropriately) in reality.
We’ve detoxed before, and are always happy once we get through the painful period of high maintenance kids who suddenly have the inability to do anything on their own besides cry out a healthy mix of, “I’m bored”, “You’re so mean”, and, “There is literally nothing to do.” When we are screen free we see new kinds of creative play, activity, projects, independence and cooperation in the house. We've learned from this yoyo of "screen free" to "moderation" to "all the time" that we slip hard to the "all the time” category and it's not pretty.
Ripping the devices from their sweaty hands is very much a detox process; the first three days are very, very hard and similar to the potty training method of locking yourself in the house and devoting yourself to nothing but pumping your child full of liquids and taking them to the toilet on 20-minute intervals, then creatively scaffolding until the kid can do it for the most part by themselves. You know the method will work eventually with persistence and follow through but you are still really amazed when your child has proven skilled/trustworthy enough to go out in public once again.
(PHOTO: KIM FERGUS)
During a screen detox I arm myself with a thick skin, a heavy dose of patience and maybe a full box of wine and submit to the process. I give my kids painful opportunities to be bored and whine, but scaffold the transition with some planned activities (a new read-aloud family book, games, Legos, and excursions) and lots of pro-active reminders “Remember, when you wake up in the morning we aren't on technology", or "When we get home let's make a fort and read chapter three of the Great Brain” to head off the impending ask for technology the second we barrel out of the car. Instead of being rewarded with M&Ms for a successful “go in the potty” my kids get the reward of a happier mother who is not constantly reeling from tech battles. And at the end of the detox the kids are happier than they were before, too, but they don’t realize it because they are too busy playing. And, just like with potty training you might be amazed that your child has proven skilled/trustworthy enough to go out in public once again, this time device free.