Blog,  Homeschool,  Motherhood

My thoughts on screen time.

What's the big deal with screen time, and why are the experts usually talking about quantity, when it's quality that really matters?

Sigh.  Yes, I start this post with a sigh because I know it’s a controversial topic and there is always the possibility that my words will make another mother feel that she has failed in some way.  I know that because I have felt it myself, and the choices I’ve made about screen time for myself and my family. 

So let me start off by telling you, dear mother of beloved children, that I have no idea how much screen time you or your children should be having daily, or if they should be having any at all. Any article I read that tries to make other mothers act out of fear and guilt, I just go ahead and skip it.  That’s not what’s happening here, I hope!

I might surprise you hear, but…

This post may not be going where you thought, since I am a homesteading, homeschooling, natural health, gardening type of woman, but…I am not anti screen time at all!  I really appreciate all the amazing things we can see and learn through a screen! We can access some remarkable resources and rather than reject them or talk about them in a negative way, I’d like to use them properly, with joy and gratefulness!   

Yes, I love the inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook (I only follow uplifting, inspiring, or helpful accounts). I blog, I watch my YouTube channels, and I research things online all the time, and I conduct business online.

I also love watching shows and movies!  My husband and I both love an occasional British mystery drama, several cooking and gardening shows, a intriguing documentary, or an artfully made film.  These things bring inspiration to my life.

When it comes to my children, I want the same thing for them!  They are to young for personal social media, but they know many of the people and channels I follow and we enjoy watching them together!  

Screens can show us beautiful places and interesting animals.  They can be artistically and visually inspiring, give us a hearty chuckle, teach us new and interesting skills.  Many wonderful resources for Christian families come through screens, and help us know and walk with God.

Quality management over minutes management.

I guess what I’m thinking of here is that it’s much more important to me WHAT we are consuming via our screens above how many minutes we are with them each day.  It is so odd to me that “screen time” is often all lumped into one category, as if the quality of what we are consuming is of secondary importance.  It isn’t!  It makes all the difference. 

There is screen time that enriches our life, and screen time that dulls us and teaches us to suckle on the teat of entertainment as if it’s the nectar of life.

So how many minutes/hours of screen time do we get everyday? Well, if we’re talking about churned out cartoons or daytime tv, or (my favorite one to thumbs down) THE NEWS, then the answer is exactly 0 minutes.  We don’t need that insipid drivel in our home or minds, like, ever!

Sports entertainment.

We don’t follow sports.  This is because I do not enjoy watching/listening to them at all.  I know that it is perfectly possible to enjoy sports in a manner that is appropriate, but all I can feel when consuming sports entertainment is all the other things I’d rather be getting done.  Like dishes.  So sorry sports fans.  Still love ya. If you want me to come to you Super Bowl party, I’m in charge of snacks!

Video games?

Video games.  Oooo, hot topic alert!  We have none.  Do I think they are horrid? No. (Certainly there are some games that are horrid, but I’m talking about games as a category of entertainment, even the family friendly ones.)  Do I think they give back joy/enrichment/inspiration commensurate to the time they take up?  I do not. 

This is very much my personal decision, and I’m completely comfortable with the fact that other families decide differently about video/computer games. There are just other ways (better ways I think) for me and my family to spend our time.  I understand it’s a gray area for some families, and that alright.  It’s pretty black and white for me.  I don’t want video games.  That’s all.

I try and stay flexible

As for the rest of the daily screen time question, my take on consumption is much more open.  It’s “however much is appropriate for that day.”  On frigid winter days, the kids can’t play outside all evening and we enjoy staying cozy and that often involves screen time, among other things.  

On the pleasant and busy days of spring and fall, our screen time almost disappears. I actually have to force myself to sit down at my computer and get the necessary things done. And the kids are outside having such adventures, they just don’t need to watch anything.

Oh yeah, and sometimes I’m pregnant and can’t move three inches with out barfing.  I cannot even tell you have grateful I am for Shawn the Sheep in these moments.

Sometimes there is a need for quietness throughout the house, and a calming nature show is the perfect thing to settle us down.  Not always.  Sometimes we need a book, or audio book, or drawing, or laying and looking at the clouds.  But sometimes we choose a screen and enjoy that, too.

No begging, borrowing, or bribing!

I won’t allow my kids to beg for bargain for screen time, I won’t use it as a reward for good behavior or take it away because of bad behavior.  I won’t feel guilty for letting my kids watch quality shows but I’m extremely careful about what influences them (for screens or anything else.)  

So here’s the bottom line on my take about screen time:  I want to be thoughtful and thorough in my choices of what I consume, and not allow screen time to distract me from my responsibilities and goals.  Like good food, I want to consume information through screens in a way that is nourishing and enjoyable, without being gluttonous or addictive.

What about you?  How do you handle screen time in your home?  Are you ever tempted to waste time on a screen?  My biggest temptation is Instagram, and my smallest temptation is Twitter!  I love Gardner’s World, my kids love The Great British Baking Show, and we all love the  YouTube channel “Smarter Every Day”.  What do you love, what do you let go?

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What's the big deal with screen time, and why are the experts usually talking about quantity, when it's quality that really matters?

And if you like sports, we can still be friends.

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