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Jarret Hynd
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

Just to make a potentially obvious point: I don't think it's the screens we are addicted to, it's the social environment, information and entertainment that the internet provides us that is the addictive part. I say this as someone who has used computers without internet for months at a time and currently uses a smartphone that has never had a SIM card in it or been connected to wifi.

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
How do you balance your screen versus meat space time?

In the spring, summer and fall, it's not even close to a mental-struggle for me to be without a screen. Last year after learning more about local plant life, I spent a lot of spare time mapping 50 acres of pasture I typical trek through in order to know where to find wild-edibles. I have some online volunteer commitments that I need to make time for on the weekends, but besides that it's just checking email twice a day and maybe 30-60 minutes of web-browsing. Maybe it's easier for me because one of the reminders I have is how many wonderful summers days I used to miss out on when I was a computer addict :)

In winter, when it's -10'C to -30'C out, I just do as much as I can inside that is screen-less but otherwise I'm pretty lenient with myself in this season. I take breaks once an hour, but every week or so I "let-myself go" to fully indulge in a topic that requires a few hours' worth of queries.


Abstinence, such as being screen-free (aka, an absolute), doesn't seem like a good way to handle a problem - it's typically a great way to relapse hard though. Finding greater value in something else will eventually help curb any negative habit.

Jocelyn Campbell
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

Joseph, I like your "Minimize Electronics" day and all that it implies.

Vera, your comments resonated with me, too. The "Goldilocks zone" for screen use IS highly variable - that's quite astute of you.

I agree, folks should be creeped out by the smartphone tracking and listening...and, I still am pretty glued to my smartphone, even knowing the creep factors all too well.

I listen to audio books probably similar to your radio listening, Vera; or others and their voracious podcast consumption. I don't think that's too horrible. I don't like listening as much outdoors as in the kitchen or around the house because it does shut out the sounds of the birds, bees, and other nature sounds outside.

When I upgraded my smartphone, I purposely did not install my favorite card game. I think that has been an addictive habit of mine used when my stress levels are high. I'd rather fix the stress levels, and improve how I feel about my world, than keep playing that stupid game.

I've been using the phrase "change the rat cage" a lot based on recent research of drug addiction behaviors perhaps more related to lifestyle, trauma, and environment than the substance or physiology or DNA itself. I think screens can be addictive for some Goldilocks...and I'm likely one of them! My improved rat cage is a work in progress...always. :-)

Vera Stewart
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

I try to take a day off each week from the computer/internet. I prefer life when I get more then one day a week offline - but I find it increasingly difficult to meet my community obligations if I take more time off from the computer. A number of years ago I became very involved with an "online community" - to the determent of my physical and mental health. Because I've experienced a tendency to withdraw from the "real world" - I feel that perhaps I am more vulnerable then most towards undesirable overuse of screen time, specifically online, and now try to keep myself quite aware of how much and for what purpose I use online tools. I don't want to live online, I want to be happy in my life, and for me, too much online is a threat to happiness.
This is not to say that there aren't good reasons to spend time online, just that too much of anything is a danger, and perhaps "too much" for one person is just enough for another, and too little for a third person. Each person has to figure out their personal Goldilocks zone, and I suspect it changes with life circumstances for each individual, as well.

I do not use a smartphone on a regular basis, only when traveling. The phone lives in a drawer in the basement most of the time, and most of the time it's off. I am amazed by how few people seem to be creeped out by the modern smartphones ability to track it's own location - and thus yours too! I hope never to develop the "smart" phone habit. I'm grateful that I experienced childhood before smartphones became ubiquitous.

I do get "antsy" sometimes when I'm on an offline day - "bored" - because it's so easy to entertain yourself passively, and it requires a little energy to come up with something else to do now that I'm habituated to turning on the computer and vegging out for fun. I find it easier to be offline in the spring/summer - in the fall/winter I now have a tendency to occupy time by stuffing my face when I can't think of anything else to do instead of turning on the computer. Now that the weather is nicer, I can make myself take a walk with less effort, and soon there will be more outside yard work too. Keeping "busy" - even if it's only busy with finishing reading a novel or playing with the dog - is an important way for me to avoid screen time.

As for TV, I watch two to two and a half hours of TV a night, mostly because it's a family habit. While on holidays away from home I find I miss TV very little. I just read or write instead, and often cook/eat supper later and go to bed earlier, which I don't think is a bad thing.

Another major technological down fall of mine is radio. I listen to the radio a lot. I tell myself it's "better" then screen time, since I can wander around "doing stuff" while I'm listening to it, and I'm not sitting staring at a bright light on a flat screen, but but I'm still drowning out any meditative thoughts or ideas I might otherwise have.
Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:I use "Minimize Electronics" rather than "No Electronics" because then I don't have to beat myself up if I cheat....

And furthermore, if I call it "Minimize Electronics" day, then it shuts people right down,  that want to belittle me for being a hypocrite or a sinner -- if I use a device on my off days.
Nicole Alderman
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

My son is four. Every day, he comes up to me and says, "Can I watch a video? I haven't watched a video yet today." We have no cable or cellphones, but we do have the internet, and he ALWAYS wants to be watching little videos on the computer. I tell him, "You don't need to watch a video--there's other things to do." And, usually he takes this for an answer, at least for a few hours. But, it's hard. Even with limited screentime, he's prone to addiction to it. He has an Ipad in in room that we use for white noise (seriosuly, it's all we've used the thing for during the two years we've had it). But, abotu a week ago, he watched us turn it on, and realized he could do so. Every morning, I give my daughter a nap while my son plays in his room. Since he found out he could turn it on, he'll spend the whole hour taking pictures of himself, watching videos we recorded, &/or playing games on it. It used to be he'd spend that time looking at books, doing creative play, making up stories and songs, etc. Now he just plays with the screen if I forget to take it away.

Here's another really good article about why it's important to limit screentime--especially social media--for kids:Porn Is Not the Worst Thing on

Here's another good article, especially for those with kids under the age of two: The iPad is a Far Bigger Threat to Our Children Than Anyone Realizes. There is, litereally, nothing on an Ipad that a kid under the age of two can't wait to learn. NOTHING. Their brains need to interact with people, play with things, learn physics by scooping and dumping and throwing and drooping things. They need to learn fine and gross motor skills and depth perception and so much more. In those two years, the foundation for learning is built. It's so much harder to learn to jump or throw or how fast things pour if you don't have those experiences as a young child. There's only so many waking hours in those two years, and while they seem like an eternity as a parent, once they're past, they sure have flown by. An Ipad or other screen time replaces those crucial activities that kids need to be learning.

And, of course, my daughter just woke up and wants to play, so I need to stop typing and interact with her. There's only so many hours in these few short years ♥
Joseph Lofthouse
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

I have been observing "Minimize Electronics Sundays" for some time now. I really really love being without a phone or computer one day per week. I'm loving it so much that I'm moving towards "Minimize Electronics Weekends".

I use "Minimize Electronics" rather than "No Electronics" because then I don't have to beat myself up if I cheat.... My life these days is all about living in the messy middle with messy people, and avoiding extremism, black/white thinking, and polarization. So if I can change my language to avoid extremism, then I'm all over that.

I also inadvertently get involved in No Electronics Week, because I go camping, and my camp sites are so far out into the boonies that there isn't cell service, nor Internet, so I might as well leave the electronics at home.

Jocelyn Campbell
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

Here's a brilliant quote from the website (that applies to adults as well):

Jocelyn Campbell
Post     Subject: Screen Free Week - other ways to balance screen time

Ah, the irony of posting about this here!

This image shows the 2018 dates, though it's every year, in the spring (in the northern hemisphere). What a brilliant idea!

I think it's a great idea, though especially for families with kids.

I used to enforce limited screen time with my daughter and she would ask me 'but what can I DO?!' This whine happened one too many times, so we unfurled the huge roll of butcher paper and brought out the colorful markers. My challenge: 'I bet you could think of 100 things to do that don't involve a screen. One of those could even be bug mom!' It was a fun thing to make a list - and 'make a list' went on the list! ('Bug mom' was on the list a few different times - haha!)

I keep imagining that I'll do things in front of the screen to maximize my time. Then, when evening rolls around and we turn on a show, I'm often so tired that I forget that I want to do more than just veg out. I don't knit or crochet, so when I remember, I've tried to get creative. One evening, I thought chopping onions on my lap was a smart, stacking functions thing. That is, until Paul's eyes started burning so much that he could no longer see the screen! Hahaha!

I'm sure permies and homesteaders have hundreds (if not thousands!) of things to do that don't involve a screen!

How do you balance your screen versus meat space time? Do you have a daily,  weekly or annual screen free time?

What is on your list that can't be done while looking at a screen?