The Medium is the Message

Screen time update: A couple of weeks ago, I posted on Facebook about screen time at our house. I wrote about how Zachary was frustrated when it came time to turn off the computer after his daily 15-minute screen time allotment, and how he had found a healthy outlet in crying.

I wish I could report that he had either developed the ability to turn off the screen without getting upset, or had at least continued to cry without escalating to anger. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), after a few days of harmless crying, he became aggressive at the end of screen time. After three days of dealing with his behavior, I explained my decision and my reasoning, and pulled the plug.

Today is day #1 of no screen time, and it happens to coincide with the first day of Spring break. He had a huge fit in the morning when he asked to watch a video and I reminded him of the decision. He got angry and tried to throw things, so Tom, my husband, stopped him and moved him to his room so he wouldn’t break anything (all he has there are clothes).

A few minutes later, Tom asked me to take over because he wasn’t feeling capable of handling the situation. I hugged Zachary and rocked him in my lap as he cried. It took him a while to get his anger out, but he did. He’s asked to watch a video three times, and all three times I’ve stood my ground firmly and with lots of love. His anger has diminished almost to zero, so now we’re ready to talk about what screen time can do to the brain and how the brain responds.

I’ve made a special space high up in a kitchen cabinet for ALL electronics, and that’s where they’ll stay any time the children are around. A friend and fellow Montessori guide told me that she and her husband treat their cell phones like old-fashioned land lines and keep them stationary when they are home. If the phone rings, they walk over, answer it, and then return it to its place. We’re going to do the same.

I thought limited screen time would work at our house. It doesn’t. Screen time is convenient, let’s not kid ourselves. Many shows are cute and seem harmless – even educational! But when it comes to children (and even adults), the medium is the message. And from now on, I’m thinking a lot more carefully about what message my children are receiving.

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4 Comments on “The Medium is the Message

  1. This is great! And you are so right. I recently gave in to the video games at our house. I’m not a gamer and neither is my husband, but my young boys loooove minecraft. And they get to be creative! And they have fun! So, yeah, I let them play and I love the medium for them.

  2. In his early years, my son spent a lot of time with adults who had the tv on often. I didn’t like that, but our “village” was so good in other ways, I accepted it.

    At our house, we watched one movie a week, on Saturday evening. That was it until he was about 7. I got a desktop computer then, and he got more time on it than he should have. At 13, he was very attached to his phone. He lost it at a park a few weeks ago, and I was so (secretly) happy!

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