Monday, October 5, 2015

Montessori Monday: Screen Time

Screen time is a slippery slope in our house. Is it in yours, too? A few weeks ago, I had begun to see a lot of behavior in Coco that I didn't like. She was impatient and more prone to frustration and irritability. Then, I happened to read an article in Psychology Today that made me think.

The author starts out by addressing the alarming prevalence of moody and aggressive or depressed and disengaged children and teens. This often leads to a diagnosis of ADHD or similar, but the problem is that medication and the usual treatments don't produce results. What is often being overlooked is simply screen time. In order to determine if that's the cause, it's necessary to do an "electronics fast" to "reset" the brain. Incredible, right?

We decided to do an electronics fast with Coco and she didn't watch television or movies, play with the iPad or iPhone or do anything electronic for two full weeks. The results? Just as the article promised:

"If done correctly, this intervention can produce deeper sleep, a brighter and more even mood, better focus and organization, and an increase in physical activity. The ability to tolerate stress improves, so meltdowns diminish in both frequency and severity. The child begins to enjoy the things they used to, is more drawn to nature, and imaginary or creative play returns."

You can read the entire article here. It is a fascinating and inspiring read.

Now we are in the process of deciding when and how much screen time Coco can have while still maintaining her sweet, curious, creative, inquisitive, playful, joyful nature. So far it seems like no screen time Monday through Friday is going to be best in our house. And on the weekends, not more than one or two hours. One or two hours of screen time per week is not much. But, after the fast, and now that Coco's brain is reset, we find it easy to enforce.

Have you ever done an electronics fast for your child - or for yourself? I want to hear all about it.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting. What an interesting article and great experiment. I have a 9-month old baby boy and so far we haven't introduced screens, but it is tempting! When did you let Coco start? ~Casey

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    1. I hear you on the tempting bit! 9 months is definitely too young. Not only will it not really work (they lose interest after a few minutes) but it's really bad for them! We let Coco start watching some TV at around 18 months, I think. I tried to hold off until 2 years because that is the recommendation of doctors and researchers and everyone, but doing international air travel with an 18 month old did it for me! ;) When you do start, go for calm shows, like Kipper. I wrote a post about it!

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  2. I read that article too and freaked out! I noticed the effects immediately last week after I showed Hunter a silly music video. When he asked to watch it again, I said no, and he flipped out! As in, knocked my computer off the couch. I told my husband that we have to cut him off. I honestly wish we had never started with the whole screen time thing, We haven't come up with a plan yet, but I will suggest your M-F no screen time and limited on the weekends.

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    1. Do the fast and then as you add back in you'll see how much is too much. The first three days are the hardest...but he won't even notice after a while. Trust me!! xx

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  3. My kids are all older now (five of them, ages 20-30) but when they were younger they were only allowed to watch TV from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening. They could record one show each during the week to watch on the weekend and it worked out well if they liked each others shows they would have more to watch! We also didn't buy any sort of video game systems until they were older and they couldn't play with those during the week either. We don't have cell phone reception where we live so cell phone use was easy to limit. I am so happy we raised our kids with very little screen time. They have grown into avid readers and successful students. Three of them are living in Europe and are on their way to fulfilling careers and two are still in the U.S. in school. They have very close relationships with each other because they didn't spend a lot of time alone on their gadgets and instead played with each other. As a parent it is hard not to just plop your kid down in front of a screen so that you can have a few minutes to get things done but in the end I think it is well worth it! Just my two cents...!

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  4. Here's my thing with screen time and my 12-month-old: If I do it, it's really hard for me to rationalize telling her not to do it. I have my iPhone at hand most of the day and use it to make our day happen (as opposed to, say, reading people.com). I jot things on my grocery list. I send Papa a text to see when he thinks he may be home. I play music to the living room speakers through Spotify. I take photos and upload them to a photo album so that her grandparents in the US (we're en Suisse) can see what she's up to. It's almost impossible to do these things covertly, pretending that the iPhone doesn't exist. As a result, my daughter sees the screen light up and is interested, plus she views the iPhone as an adult tool that she wants to get a hold of and examine. When she does get her hands on it, it's as if she's come across kryptonite. Getting it away from her is such.a.battle. Does it make screen time "better" if it's with a screen that is a household tool? I go back and forth on this.

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  5. We have a pretty strict screen policy in our home. Our 2.5 year old occasionally gets to look at some photos on our phone for a few minutes but that is his only screen time. We recently got rid of our television and I have been surprised that I haven't missed it and haven't been watching shows on the computer either. For us we've found it much easier to enforce a zero screen policy than an occasional screen policy. On weeks where our son has been able to look at pictures a few times we notice him whining for the phone more, but then the less he gets it the less he thinks of it. I'm not sure yet when/how we'll introduce more screen time, it's not our intention to try to keep screen out of his life (impossible) but we may try to delay them as much as possible.

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