Want to determine how addicted your kids are to video games, TV, movies, devices, apps, social media etc? Suggest a media detox (a set amount of time where the whole family goes cold turkey off of all the above). Be prepared… weeping and gnashing of teeth may commence, and not just with the kids! Admit it, as parents we use screen time for our kids like modern day pacifiers — to keep them quiet and occupied so we can get something done or enjoy a moment of peace.
Recently, our pastor called our entire church to a media fast — 7 days of no media. We were on board from the beginning, having fasted media before with tremendous results such as clearer thinking, fewer distractions, greater focus, and increased spiritual sensitivity. Our kids, however, are not exactly thrilled about the concept. Even still, their resistance shows us just how needed this time is. Media has become far too much of a focus.
For Christians, fasting has spiritual significance, but the discipline of eliminating areas of excess can benefit just about anyone. People regularly cleanse their physical bodies by detoxing from sugar, dairy, caffeine and more in order to recalibrate their overall health.
In the same way, issuing a media detox for your family can be a great way to recalibrate your family’s emotional and relational health. In fact, you may not have an accurate picture of media’s impact on your family UNTIL you eliminate it for a season. A detox can help you determine how much grip media has on you or your children. The following examples show how too much media can negatively affect our kids and families:
Social media comparisons can lead to jealousy and depression
Family bonding time gets sacrificed as everyone pursues their own individual screen indulgences
Constant searching for “something to watch” on TV creates large blocks of unproductive time
Video game overload creates superficial communication among kids, limiting opportunities to forge stronger relationships and social skills by interacting and engaging in creativity with each other
The sense of entitlement to entertainment rises, creating unrealistic expectations and a faulty world view (can you say #firstworldproblems?)
This week our family will embark on this journey together, even if some of us might be a little grumpy about it on occasion. Hey, not everything that’s good for you is enjoyable 100% of the time.
Parents Who Fight will be offline as well. My 9-year-old said to me, “But Parents Who Fight stuff isn’t entertainment. It’s work, and it’s important!” His response warmed my heart, but it also gave me the opportunity to let him know that creating balance is part of helping parents protect their kids. When we unplug this week, we will be modeling something that’s very needed in the online safety conversation. We are SAFER when we have boundaries, and this time offline helps us shore up those boundaries.
So, we’re headed into “radio silence” for seven days. Our hope is that our kids will renew their appreciation for books, family UNO matches, playing instruments, shooting hoops, and feeding their spirits. As parents, we’re really looking forward to focusing on what really matters in life: our spiritual health and our family.
Have you ever done a media detox? What did you learn, and how did it go?