Screen-Free At Last!

by: 

Josh Golin

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: I am so looking forward to Screen-Free Week.  

When CCFC began hosting Screen-Free Week, I didn’t think about it in personal terms.  After all, my daughter (now 3.5) is screen-free. And me? I barely watch TV.  Sure, I’m on the computer a lot.  But for good reasons.  To do my job. To follow important events. As part of my non-work activism.  If I’m using screens to be a more engaged citizen, what’s the problem? 

Last year’s Screen-Free Week didn’t lead to lasting changes in my screen habits, but it  punctured my denial.  That little voice in my head saying “turn off the damn computer, already” has gotten progressively – and annoyingly -- louder.  And as Screen-Free Week approaches, it’s hard to deny that voice is right most of the time.

I need a break from screens -- computers specifically.  My eyes need a break from backlighting.  My brain needs a break from information overload.  My body needs a break from days of too-little movement and nights of too-little-sleep. 

And my family needs a break from a distracted dad/husband.  Because my daughter is still screen-free, I tell myself we’re doing great job. But really, managing her screen-time is only one part of my responsibility.  I need to stop modeling screen-addiction.  And I need to be present when I’m with her, instead of thinking about my next email or tweet.

So in my quest to regain some balance, I’ve made two rules for Screen-Free Week:

1. No screens at home at all.  I’m not going to distinguish between entertainment, communication, and work because almost all of my screen time can be justified under the latter two. I’m just going dark.

2. Screen-free lunches. I preach the importance of screen-free meals all the time, but eat my lunch in front of the computer every workday. 

Instead, I plan on reading books more, sleeping more, eating lunch outside more, and being less generally distracted.  I also plan on using some of my extra screen-free hours to develop a realistic plan for managing my computer time when it’s over. I really don’t want to be writing this same post again next year!

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