“No TV! You’ll Rot Your Brain Out!”-by Chaz
A screen time challenge we undertook in February- the hardest (and coldest) time of the year to turn off SCREENS.
Big Three Takeaways:
- February can be a cold and dreary month, don’t let it lead you to idleness.
- Time is your most precious commodity, treat it with care.
- Thirty day challenge, screen time
Our kids love living at West Point. The United States Military Academy’s campus, steeped in history and filled with rampart-topped buildings, is America’s Hogwarts–sans magic broomsticks. Marek and Ammo are still pretty convinced that the cadets are training to become knights of the round table.
I took them with me to work over the winter break, and they loved going behind the scenes and exploring the magnificent structures.
West Point’s Gloom Period
The Academy is a beautiful place. There is even a spot overlooking the Hudson River called “the million dollar view.”
Still, there is a time of year when the sweeping vistas, and natural beauty finds itself masked by an ever-present layer of gray. The sky, normally blue and vibrant, becomes perpetually cloudy. The Hudson loses its sparkle and becomes a morass of ice and debris. The buildings, whose gray stone normally contrast pleasantly against the lush green vegetation of New York, instead blend into a landscape of gray trees, on gray mottled ground, against a gray horizon.
In February, life at West Point is–in a word–GLOOMY.
The cold weather and unpleasant conditions outside lead many people to sequester themselves inside their homes. There they entertain themselves with the ubiquitous digital entertainment pervading our society. Screen time becomes not just a passing enjoyment, but a time-consuming and insatiable beast that leeches our life energy at a startling rate. Screens allow cold New Yorkers to escape the gloom and enter an imaginary world.
There are many screens through which we escape, let me name a few.
- Nintendo Wii
The list goes on, but you get the idea.
Don’t Succumb to the Screen Machines
As we pondered what challenge we should throw down for this month, we considered arenas where we, THE CHALLENGER SEVEN, could use some improvement. Turns out, the gloom period had led us to be inside more than we dare admit, and–doggone it– it was time to do something about it.
While researching this challenge we learned that the average human consumes about 150 hours of screen entertainment a month. Let’s let that sink in for a minute.
150 hours a month.
5 hours a DAY.
Like you, we were quick to get defensive and say, “no way, not us, we don’t spend NEARLY that much time watching TV or playing video games, or looking at Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.” Even though we are probably more guilty than we think, let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and cut that number in half–75 hours a month.
That is STILL 75 HOURS OF YOUR LIFE!
Time: an ultra-precious commodity
What could you do with 75 hours? There is SO MUCH you could do with 75 hours, and if some of the things that you do with that time includes your family–ALL THE BETTER!
Here are some ideas for what you could do if you cut down screen time and regained even just 50 hours in a month that you once allowed slip away in the idle zombie-entertainment of digital media.
What YOU could do
- Learn a song on the piano (challenge)
- Learn to play the guitar
- Practice your drawing skills
- Clean or make your bed (challenge)
- Paint a picture
- Read a book
- Call or write a letter to a relative (challenge)
- Develop a new habit
- Work on some new goals
- Have a dance party (challenge)
- Read some scripture
- Put some time toward fitness (challenge)
- Learn to cook a new and healthy meal for family dinner (challenge)
- Play with your children (1 example), (2 example), (3 example)
There is plenty you could do AS A FAMILY! (UPDATE: Make sure to check out our screen time results! There are videos on there that will show you a plethora of things our kids did with no tv!!)
Here are even MORE IDEAS we have enjoyed.
What your FAMILY could do
Go on a hike.
At the top of the mountain you can enjoy the view. Cloudy days are prettier from high altitudes.
If the weather outside is truly miserable, well, use some imagination within your own home.
Here the boys decided they would set up ALL their toys and act out funny stories.
And there is always the option of spending more time around the dinner table! (challenge)
You could also take a bit of time to read some stories to your kids, or why not make one up yourself (another challenge!)
With SCREEN TIME we are not going to mandate specific rules. We respect the autonomy of your family and understand sometimes moms need just that one hour in the morning when her kids will actually sit still and watch Dora the Explorer so she can finish a project, tidy things up, or just sit down and catch her breath.
We are not asking you to cold-turkey go on a media fast for 30 days. If you WANT to, then awesome, tell us all about it on the flip side.
What we ARE challenging you to do is REDUCE the amount of digital media you consume for 30 days.
We want you to counsel as a family and have a PLAN to DISCIPLINE your screen time.
Allow each child no more than one hour of screen time per day. If Raycer wants to wake up at 0530 and watches his hour till 0630, he doesn’t get to watch TV when Marek and Ammo catch some cartoons after school.
(UPDATE: This did not work for our family because they had a hard time limiting it and walking away. So we went to PLAN B which is only allow 2 hours a week of TV, which we determined would be our Friday family movie night. This worked great for us!)
In the end, our family will consume no more than nine hours a week of media per person, that means less than 40 hours per person for the month. (UPDATE: We ended up reducing it to 1.5-2 hours of media a week.)
Join the the screen time challenge and tag us @challengemyfamily!
We have a question for you: What could you do with an extra 50 hours in a month? How about 75 hours? What could you do with 150 hours?