-screentime sabbatical-

I’ve been thinking about instigating No Technology Tuesdays in the Voth house.

Roger and I like to believe that we’re raising our children in a home environment that is simple, wholesome, maybe even a little old-fashioned. And to some extent, we are.

We eat our meals together around the dining room table. We don’t have cable or satellite (and our TV doesn’t pick up any local channels.) Our kids will happily spend hours playing with Legos while listening to Focus on the Family Radio Theatre. All of our children own at least one sheep and have to help take care of the crazy things. They carry firewood for our wood stove. They have regular dish chores. They go to bed at 8:30 on school nights. Pretty wholesome little snapshot, right?

But on the flip side….

Our family owns a laptop, a netbook, a smartphone, 2 samsung media players (basically smartphones without phone capabilities), a nook, a wii, a DS, a couple of gameboys, several shelves of DVDs and enough electronic games and apps to keep all of us entertained for two lifetimes. These are the things we love. We carry them with us everywhere we go; we charge them religiously each night.

I admit; I’ve encouraged them in all this.  I really do believe that technology is a good thing. It’s an important part of our world and I want my children to understand it and be able to use it to make their lives more efficient.

But I’d be embarrassed to admit to you how much of their lives are spent focused on screens. Sometimes multiple screens. While one of them is playing Lego Star Wars on the wii, 2 of the others may be watching and giving advice while playing their own little game of Minecraft. When we all sit down to watch a family movie, one of them is probably playing a handheld game. If there are a few extra minutes in the morning before we go to the bus… pull out the Samsung. Most nights when they’re settled in bed and I come in to pray with them, I have to wait for them to finish a game and turn it off.

They’re afraid of being bored.

Which strikes me as funny because there is so much to do in this house. For starters, they each have 3 siblings fairly close to their age, which is more than a lot of kids have. We have a closet full of games that no one plays. We have more Legos than some toy stores. They’ve got a creek below the house for warm days, and a fantastic ditch behind the house – perfect for frog-catching, dam-building, water work creations and general muddiness. They have an awesome attic play space that their daddy and uncle built. They’ve got shelves full of books that they’ve never read.

I wonder what would happen if we would all agree to keeping all our electronic devices turned off for one day a week. I wonder if I could even handle it. Keep my computer shut, leave my phone turned off, no facebook or pinterest. Like I said, I believe in technology. I don’t want to go crazy and ban it completely, or make them do a month-long fast.

But I also love the laughter and interaction that happens when our family is spending time together with no screens involved.

Has your family ever done something like this? Did it work? Did your kids (or you) rebel? Was it easier than you expected? Harder? I’d love to know.


About ruthie.voth

Wife of one, mother of four, friend of many. Lover of details, color, good conversations, finding balance, and being honest. Passionate lover of a well-crafted sentence - even more so if it's witty. Weird blend of cynical optimist. I'm the worst kind of woman. I'm high maintenance, but I think I'm low maintenance. Somehow, people still love me. Must be grace.
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5 Responses to -screentime sabbatical-

  1. Marilyn says:

    I think that is a fantastic idea! I’m trying to work myself away from my phone on my day off, but it is so hard. I think it’s definitely a good habit to begin to work on for everyone! Good luck! 🙂


  2. Connie says:

    Ruthie I found this so interesting for several reasons 1)we also eat together at the table,we go to bed at 830 on school nights and they help do things around the house.We do have tv with more channels than anyone needs most of which are never used,we have way to many electronics which are used way to much. I made a new rule a few weeks ago that there were no electronics in the car on our way to school,it was not a happy time for the first few minutes but then we got back to talking and laughing and enjoying each other.We are in the car so much going to and from school and I am not proud but we had gotten to the point that we didnt speak to each other.I was called out by them because I was using my phone to much not proud of it but they were right.I agree with the love of laughter when they are playing together or all of us as a family are working a puzzle or playing a game or even working on a project I tell them all the time STUFF doesnt matter people do.One more in common thing the ditch and the creek and the clubhouse and once they lay down the electronics and go outside they love all of it.Didnt mean to go on so long, I love reading your blogs you can always make me laugh.You are a sweetie and I love you.


  3. I have not fasted from screen time but I have become more intentional about interacting with hubby and other family members without my laptop in front of me. I don’t have any other smart devices. My computer is the real danger.

    I’ve noticed that I’ve mostly narrowed down my computer behavior to email, fb and writing and researching. I read a few blogs of course but I haven’t been able to dig into pinterest. I think it’s because I just can’t deal with the way the internet fragments me.


  4. tina says:

    We have never tried this but I like the idea.


  5. dhartzler2013 says:

    Ruthie, we’ve never had cable but always had plenty of videos. We used to have “no computer Tuesdays and Thursdays” (except for homework) and that meant no video games either and no videos. I almost wish we had limited it more. We were talking to good friends a few weeks ago (four kids ages 8 – 15) and she mentioned “no screens” during the week. Apparently from Mon – Fri there are NO screens: tv, videos, computers, etc. No screens. Even though we probably didn’t limit it enough our kids do recognize the value of limiting “screens”. They’ll have to find their own balance now.


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