Skipping Screen-Free Week

What Women Really Think
April 15 2011 10:48 AM

Skipping Screen-Free Week

/blogs/xx_factor/2011/04/15/screenfree_week_works_best_for_kids_who_make_their_own_screen_choices/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Next week is Screen-Free Week (formerly known as TV Turnoff Week), as brought to you by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood . I've known about this week for years, and we've never once observed it. For one thing, it invariably corresponds to our April school break, thus presenting two options: Either a) we're already doing something so fun that screen-free isn't really relevant or b) the always preachy CCFC is now suggesting that I go a solid, school-less week-a week in which I will still be holding to a regular work schedule, and my four children will be running wild around me, invariably losing their generally excellent ability to self-entertain and peacefully interact at approximately 5:00 daily, precisely the moment when I'm desperately trying to finish up the last bits of work for the day and start dinner-without once resorting to the highly addictive, all-child-inclusive form of entertainment that is  Phineas and Ferb .

Advertisement

Which leads me to the following counterintuitive (and admittedly somewhat self-serving) Suggestion: screen-free week is for kids who control their own screen time.

You'd think it would be just the opposite, right? After all, the younger a kid is, the less "screen time" is considered acceptable. But when it comes to younger kids, like mine, any parent who's likely to go for "screen-free week" is probably already doling out the screen time with a pretty hesitant hand. Going cold turkey is far more about the parent in those cases than it is about the child.

Until a kid has some grasp of why screen-free week matters, I think the point of it is lost. And I suspect an understanding of that point probably correlates pretty strongly with becoming a person who might, of her own volition, come inside and sit down to the TV, the computer or a phone or video game. In our house, we're not there yet. I support the idea of a "screen-free week," but I support it as a family project, not a top-down imposition of a temporary new screen rule. So until I have a kid with his or her own screen, I think I'll give screen-free week a guilt-free pass.

Photograph of toddler with smart phone by Getty Images/Thinkstock.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.