Guest blogger Julia: It's no new news that it's unhealthy for kids to spend too much time in front of a screen, whether they're playing video games or watching television. My husband and I thought we were pretty good when it came to our own son, Finn: He was limited to Wii and TV on the weekends only.
But then guess what he wanted to do when Saturday and Sunday rolled around? Given the choice of doing anything -- and I mean anything -- he would always choose playing video games. Of course this didn't work for us, so he'd have to go out and do other things, but it was always with a sourpuss attitude. We realized that video games had become the most important thing in his life.
If we were going to take away Finn's TV and Wii, though, we felt it would be hypocritical if we didn't do away with ours, too. We have a flatscreen TV on the wall opposite our bed, and my husband and I have it on every night. Oftentimes we fall asleep with it on, and it's only in the middle of the night (sweating -- that thing puts off a lot of heat!) that one of us wakes up to turn it off. This has not been great for our sex life, nor has it been great for expanding our minds with -- what a concept! -- reading.
We decided to try it for one month. We collected the remotes and put them in garage, and we unplugged the three TVs in the house (we draped sheets over them, too). Surprisingly, it wasn't so hard for Finn to do without electronics once he knew there was no choice. The biggest change was in his attitude. He talked more, he read more and he played more -- in his room, on the floor, with LEGOs and action figures. His mind was working to create something, rather than mindlessly shooting at or watching something. He was a happier kid.
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It was worse for us, I think. I hadn't realized how much I had looked forward to crawling in bed, snuggling up to my husband and watching our favorite "Tivoed" shows. We didn't know what to do with ourselves that first night! So we read a little and talked a little, and then we fell asleep at 8:30 PM, without having sex. We didn't care -- who knew we could get that much sleep, and such good sleep too?!
With that much rest, I, for one, noticed that my mind was quieter, that I was able to handle the stress at work better and that I was more patient and more present with my kid. And, yes, our sex life eventually benefitted as well. It's been so nice not having TV around that we've decided to try it for another month. I highly recommend this! It will be hard at first, but give it a couple of days and see how you and your family can benefit from doing without television and video games in your lives. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.