Quality Family Time Should Be Screen Free

Family Time
Image by Dirk Wouters from Pixabay

The Digital Age, Computer Age or Information Age, whatever you call the 21st century it involves technology, and lots of it. We have powerful minicomputers in our pockets with our smartphones, fridges connected to the internet that self-order when items are low, internet connected televisions that do more than allow you to watch tv, home security devices that we can control from miles away and lots more. Don’t get me wrong, technology has its place and is extremely useful, we love playing on the games console with and without the kids and some of the educational resources that we use on the laptops/tablets are excellent, but every so often kids (and us adults) need to switch off the screens, down the phones and tablets and actually spend some time together as a family. It is not that long ago that screens didn’t make up much of our free time (and growing up, I certainly didn’t have a phone to occupy my time) and as kids we played more outside and interacted with others. We need to scale back on the electronic devices and interact with each other more. Time is precious – people get older, kids move on, and we should spend as much time together as we can.

Too much screen time isn’t good for us. It leads to a lack of exercise, weight gain, the loss of communication, is self-isolating (especially in our house when the kids are in their bedrooms with their own laptops, phones and televisions and the adults beavering away on laptops and phones in other rooms) and can end up being the easy option for childcare, becoming a technological babysitter. And to top it all, family time becomes sitting in the same room together watching a DVD or streaming a film – another screen-based activity where no one is talking to each other! Sound familiar? These scenes or variations of will be seen in millions of households around the world.

Ditching the screens completely is no good either, kids need to do their homework (which today is more screen-based), adults need to work, and we do need to relax and chill out in front of a television to give our minds a break. But like most things, moderation and balance is the key.

  • Keep track of screen time – keep track of how much time everyone spends on a screen (television, phone, tablet, laptop etc.) so you can work out if all that screen time is really needed. This way you will be able to limit use at the right times (something I can be guilty of, having the morning news on as background noise).
  • Turn it off – turn off devices when not really in use, don’t just have the television on for the sake of it.
  • Get Out and About – go for a walk or take the kids to the park, it will be so much better for everyone than plonking down in front of a screen, mindlessly doing nothing.

In our house we do try and limit screen time. Meals are eaten at the kitchen table, and we do not have a television there. It really does make a difference, especially with the kids, as everybody talks to each other.

With screens turned off, obviously the void needs to be turned off as to spend some quality family time together you now don’t really want to sit down watching the television or have “movie might”. Whilst a movie night has its place, for that quality time where you can all talk, laugh and have some fun together all screens need to be off. We are not suggesting that the screens are off for a week, just a couple of hours to enjoy each other’s company, catch up on each person’s day and have some fun.

With summer (what we had of it) more or less behind us, Autumn is well on the way, the clocks changing next month and the nights getting darker earlier, we will be spending more and more time indoors and the draw of screens and gadgets will only increase, those power buttons are just so easy to press to light up screens filled with entertainment. Find the willpower to say “no” to the gadgets and “yes” to real human interaction and quality family time, you will be surprised at just how much everybody loves it, despite their initial objections.

Our homes are now filled with screens in every room, even our pockets and bags have screens, and if you are a teenager your hand seems permanently equipped with a screen (although this one does seem to have a very bizarre way of talking to your friends on it as it seems incapable of going near your ear). It’s now time to switch them off and try something different (and teenagers may have to undergo a surgical procedure to remove their phone from their hands). Sit down and decide what your family screen-free evening will be (and wait for the cries of resistance, this will change once everybody gets used to the idea and accepts it and then they will look forward to it and enjoy it). Switch off tv’s, phones, tablets, laptops, computers and any other distracting screen-based items you may have and prepare to have some fun. 

Here are some ideas for screen-free fun for all the family to enjoy together:

  • Board and Tabletop Games – we love sitting around the table playing screen-free games, the kids enjoy it so much that they are always asking to play now. Here are some reviews of family games that we have played together. This is always a fun night with plenty of joined up, proper conversation as well, and yes, also fun and silly conversation.
  • Jigsaws – like board games, jigsaws will get everyone around the table doing something whilst talking and is surprisingly relaxing and enjoyable.
  • Baking – kids love to bake and make cakes, especially as they get to eat them afterwards. This is an activity that the whole family can join in with that will provide not just cakes but laughter and conversation. Just be prepared for a mess (which the kids can also help clean up, teaching them a bit of responsibility in the process).
  • Science / Educational Kits – whilst the kids might not want to come home from school, finish their homework and then start playing something educational some of the science kits are excellent for family time and interaction and everybody, including the adults, might even learn something new. Check out our reviews of science kits we have tried at home with the kids. Do you know how to create Martian soil or power a clock using water?
  • Arts & Crafts – set up some crafts on the kitchen table and work together using your hands to create your masterpieces, whilst enjoying the conversation that comes with it.
  • Exercise – go for a relaxing walk together and just talk among yourselves, you could even walk around your neighbourhood playing I Spy.
  • Outdoor Fun – grab the scooters and the bikes and go out and spend some time together around the local parks having some outdoor fun. Or on a good blustery day, grab a kite and learn to fly!
  • Good old-fashioned conversation – just relaxing together around the table or on the sofas seeing how everyone’s day has been, any problems anyone has, and general chitchat is an excellent way for everyone to find out what is happening in each other’s lives.

If you want to spend some good quality time with you family, #DitchTheScreens. Find a screen-free activity that will appeal to ALL members of your family (some might take a bit of encouraging but will enjoy in the end and thank you for it). Have a set night for your family time and stick to it. Good quality family time should be screen-free for maximum enjoyment. You can always sit down together afterwards and still watch a movie together.

Screen-free family time is an excellent bonding experience and perfect for fun, laughter and conversation. Try it and see, you will be amazed at the difference it can actually make.

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