Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Enjoy Media with Your Kids Week"

I was invited to attend the following event on Facebook:
Screen-Free Week ( is a national celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off entertainment screen media (TV, video games, computer games, apps, etc.) and turn on LIFE! It's 7 days to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore nature, and spend time with family and friends.

My RSVP is "No," our family will not be attending.

Our LIFE is heavily invested in screen time. Turning off screens would result in no communication with many of our family and friends with whom we only communicate via text, skype and facebook. We wouldn't be able to learn about science via watching Myth Busters and Bones, my girls wouldn't be able to work on stories they are writing, daydream on Polyvore, look up plants and animals and a lot of other nature related topics, or read fan fiction. The way I look at it, we play, read, daydream, create, explore nature and spend time with family and friends through and with media. I don't see that as a negative, I see it as an amazing blessing that comes from living in this day and age. We can learn anything we want any time we want, together, with the click of a mouse.

If you have read my blog before you should know that I would never impose "Media Free Week" upon my family. I think that if kids want to participate that's cool, but if they do not then turning off media becomes a negative, creates conflict in families and it can feel like punishment. I know some families enjoy Media Free Week. The parents and kids are on board for the challenge and they make it fun together, but those families are rare. Most kids feel pushed, forced or manipulated. Schools, parents and toy stores do their best to bribe kids into participation with toys, stickers or other rewards. Rewards do not increase a child's intrinsic motivation to do something again on their own. In facts, when you bribe or reward a child for a behavior they are less likely to engage in that behavior by choice.  If you don't believe me take the time to read Alfie Kohn's book "Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishment to Love and Reason."

I believe someone should start "Enjoy media with your kids week" to encourage parents to sit down and watch a movie, play a game or text with their kids more often. It is very likely that you will strengthen your relationship with your children a whole lot more by turning on media with them instead of turning off media for them.

"Researchers found that girls that played video games with their parents (mainly their fathers - not many mothers questioned admitted they played video games) were better behaved, felt more connected to their families, felt less aggressive, and demonstrated decreased levels of internalizing, which can lead to depression."


  1. i'm right here with ya Jenna - and thanks for the reminder - bryn and i have been wanting to play guitar hero for a while and keep forgetting when we're actually home :)

  2. Hi Jenna! I find your post really interesting! I am the editor of a language-arts magazine for middle school and I'm currently working on a story about teens and screen time. I'd love to talk to you more! Are you available for a quick chat on the phone? If so, drop me an email: Thanks!