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Screen Struggles: A Day to Unplug

National Day of Unplugging allows parents to be role models and kids to build self-control

Published on: March 05, 2014

day of unpluggingIs the issue of screen time a constant in your home? Are you frequently battling with your child to give your phone back or turn off the iPad? Struggling to enforce TV and video game time limits? The good news is you are not alone.

We can hear the guilt in your head. We have it too. With all of the screens in our lives these days, it feels like trying to live in a candy store without overindulging. We can’t go back and change what we have done in the past, but we invite you to look forward and make changes that will support the vision you have for your family.

It is so easy to rely on screens as a means of entertainment and to keep kids quiet. The drawbacks to using screens as a babysitter or entertainer is that it also creates an addictive dynamic, which probably fuels the existing power struggle that you most likely already have with your child.

If you want to create more peace and begin to eliminate some of the screen struggles in your family you don't actually have to go this alone because March 7-8 (sundown to sundown) is National Day of Unplugging! Yeah, everyone else is doing it, why not join in?

This is a great opportunity to experiment with what kind of limits you can put on your children and yourself in terms of using screens and technology. You are modeling the behaviors that your children are already replicating or will soon replicate. It is important to start with practicing your own self-restraint and focusing on your self-control. You might feel like your kids are out of control and impulsive, what about you? What behaviors are you modeling for your children that are contributing to the screen struggles? (BTW, I am guilty and actively working on this too!) 

If you can believe it, studies suggest that self-control is contagious! Researchers have found that watching or even thinking about someone with good self-control makes others more likely show the same restraint. They also found that the opposite also holds true — people with crummy self-control influence others negatively. In fact, the effect is so powerful that just seeing the name of someone with good or bad self-control flashing on a screen for 10 milliseconds changed the behavior of volunteers. Just by exhibiting self-control, you are helping your children do the same. It is a win-win:  You get to be more present when you are with your child and they will have more self-control when it comes to the screens in their life.

There is no time like the present to create change. This is an opportunity to experiment and see what is possible when we make the space for it. Take matters into your own hands, put down your screen and join GROW Parenting in the National Day of Unplugging.

Check out the National Unplug Day events taking place in cities across the country and a fantastic information packet filled with tips for families and educators For more ideas on how to unplug and ways to get supported in the process you can read our previous blog post Technology Time: Setting Limits That Work.

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