I can't believe it's already back to school time. Kidlet started 4th grade this week, and that marked the end of our Screen-Free Summer experiment. For those who haven't been following along, at the beginning of summer we decided that kidlet would have no video games, iPad, or computer time this summer. He could watch TV and movies with us as a family, but that would be his only screen time. (Get links to all the previous posts at the bottom of this post.)
The summer has gone so much better than I ever could've hoped for. The experiment ended up being not just great for the kiddo but for us too. We have introduced kidlet to a bit of our 80s childhood--we watched "old" movies (The Back to the Future movies were his favorite), we played endless games of UNO and rediscovered board games we'd forgotten about (hubs and I now are slightly obsessed with Upwords), kidlet and I watched a bunch of The Goldbergs (sticking with our 80s theme, lol), and so many more things (frisbee, library visits, flag football, guitar lessons, kidlet learning to cook with me, etc.)
So what were the outcomes of the experiment?
Some things kidlet did that I know wouldn't have happened if we hadn't gone device-free:
- He got completely into his guitar lessons. I don't have to prompt him to practice. He goes to his guitar and practices daily because he wants to. In fact, he did his first concert this past weekend and in only three months, he was picked as lead guitar on one of the rock songs. He was so great!
- One day he decided that the video game he really wanted to play hadn't been invented yet, so he took a stack of looseleaf and started drawing up his plans for the game he would invent, each page was another screenshot of the game.
- He got into devising and decorating a calendar for each month to plan his activities. (see photo of the calendar in this post) So now at the beginning of the month, he maps out all the fun things he wants to do, chooses movies for the movie nights, and selects meals he wants to help cook.
- He fell in love with UNO. I have lost count of how many games we've played lol.
- He's discovered a love for audiobooks (via the library visits.)
- He inspired my husband and I to take our own hard look at ourselves and our smartphone/internet time.
And what about the things that prompted us to go device-free in the first place?
- Kidlet's motor tics, which had gotten pretty bad toward the end of the school year, have almost disappeared. Every now and then I'll see a small one appear, but it's so subtle that no one but me or hubs who know him so well would even catch it. It's a dramatic difference.
- Kidlet had started getting grumpy, irritable, and defiant with us on a regular basis, which was outside his normally sunny personality. That whole attitude/defiance thing has disappeared. Not to say he doesn't have his moments. He's a kid. But it's rare and short-lived. This has probably been one of the biggest changes. His general mood has just been happier and more relaxed.
- Kidlet's preoccupation/desire for the video games and devices disappeared in about a week. The spell can definitely be broken.
In fact, the device-free summer has been so great that I was kind of dreading the end of it because I liked the new rhythm we'd established and my pleasant kid. But I gave my word to kidlet that it was just for the summer and I wasn't going to go back on that. However, I warned him during the summer that when it came back, there would be limits.
So this week, I told kidlet that he can have 100 minutes a week on devices (any device counts unless it's something for school work) and he can budget those minutes how he wants. He was fine with that and, in his analytical way, immediately started figuring out how he wanted to budget them. But he also told me last night: "Mom, can we do device-free summer next summer? I really liked it."
*cue me doing a victory dance in my head* lol
And really, I completely understand where he's coming from. I've dialed back a lot of my social media and smartphone time this summer, too. I also took a three-week internet break when I was finishing my book. Coming back, I had a small sense of dread because the break had been freeing in a lot of ways. So I think that might be how kidlet is feeling now. So, I I told him we could do it again next summer and that just because devices were back didn't mean he HAD to use them. He could be device-free anytime he wanted.
Yesterday was his first day back with access. He spent 10 minutes playing a video game with a friend who came over and then last night used another few minutes to create Spotify playlists of the songs he wants to learn on guitar. Then he put it all away to watch some TV with me. He didn't rush back to them like he'd been deprived of anything.
So I'm declaring this summer a roaring success. I'm so very glad we decided to give this a try. It's been life-changing in a hundred little ways for all of us. : )
Anyone else do any experiments over the summer?
Previous posts on the Screen-Free Summer:
- A Screen-Free Summer for Kidlet: How, Why, & If I'll Lose My Mind
- The 10-Day Update
- 5 Week Update on Screen-Free Summer
Other Related Posts:
- Morning Rituals: Breaking the Smartphone First Habit
- Research Reads from a Device-Free Summer: The End of Absence
- Thought-Provoking Reads from a Device-Free Summer (Day 2): The Power of Off