May 15, 2011

How Long Could You Go Without Screen Time?

This question was posed at a recent screening that I attended of the fascinating Ground Productions documentary, Play Again by filmmaker Tonje Schei. This film follows several teenagers as they are removed from a life of television, video games and cell phones and are presented with the opportunity to rediscover nature.
The 80 minute viewing was both gripping and immensely disturbing. Many of the statistics in this film are American-based but technology is gaining momentum worldwide. It's a matter of time before these statistics become a world-wide epidemic. Thus, I would like to take a few moments to acknowledge some significant messages I got from this film.  However, I must encourage you to see it for yourself, as I am certain it will have a profound impact on anyone who views it.

The average teenager has 7 1/2 hours a day of screen time.
That is more time spent daily looking at screens and monitors than in school!

Teens spend 5 months of the year in front of screens.
This sedentary behaviour is contributing to childhood obesity and increases in childhood illness and diabetes.

Children recognize more corporate logos than they do common plants in their own backyard. 
Increased screen time directly correlates with a detachment from reality. The interests of children have shifted from playing tag, building forts and climbing trees to playing video games, watching television and texting on their cell phones.

If everyone on the planet lived like the average American, we would need five planets to sustain us. 
The over-consumption of resources is frightening. We need to teach our children and future generations about the irreplaceable value of our beautiful planet.

The current generation is at risk of dying earlier than their parents.
The sedentary behaviour that is taking place in our homes could mean we may never see our children reach life's milestones. Happiness, marriage, longevity, grandchildren... these could become rarities!

Children are losing the ability to recognize emotions from facial expressions.
The current overexposure to false realities could have a grossly negative impact on the social, moral and ethical nature on this as well as future generations. The violence and living an alternate "life" through gaming is desensitizing our children to life, feelings, spirituality, compassion for humanity, and empathy.

Individualized and original play in children is being lost to reenactments of activities seen in movies, television and video games.
One individual in this documentary commented that play is like fingerprints and that no two children play the same way. However, exposure to media is destroying original play.

Environmental degradation is directly related to our detachment from nature.
Why care for something we have no connection to? Why care for the environment or the planet if we rarely connect with the beauty and wonder that nature presents?

One of the most profound messages I received from this documentary was; Television and video games tells us that we are the centre of everything but nature teaches us that we're a very small part of something that's larger. A respect and reverence for the natural beauty that surrounds us is real, it's thought-provoking and inspiring. Without it, what are we?

So, now I ask you and I ask myself... how long could you go without screen time? This week I hope to answer that question. Other than needing to electronically submit my time sheet to my boss, I will be disconnecting.... No screen time. No computer. No television. No video games. No cell phone. I will do this starting tomorrow (Monday) for a week (maximum) and will report back to you on how I did.  

For more information on the Play Again documentary, please visit the official website:

4 comments:

  1. Personally, I COULD go a very long time. I have my issues with this, as I've talked about it on my blog. No technology, and even no electricity after sunset - a great & fun experience for me & the kids. But my husband? Not so much. He gets sucked into the vortex and its tough for me to watch but when I put my foot down & force him to participate in No Tech week, he eventually thanks me for it and lesson learned.

    But the lesson is soon forgotten and he gets sucked in again. We all do. Thats why I want to make it a more regular and intentional thing rather than an impulsive "I've had it!" thing. Does that make sense?

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  2. This was scary to read but I totally believe it! I am guilty of letting it happen with my kiddie but I don't think I'm as bad as some! I worry about it and limit how much video and computer they get.

    Scary that some kids can't recognize emotions!

    Thanks for liking my lamps!

    Megan

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  3. This is awesome Jennifer. I tired to comment this morning but for some reason it's not here. Oh well. I also left the computer/tv off from 230pm till 7pm today (the hours that the kids are home) which led to much dancing and book reading. It was nice and I plan to do that for the week.

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  4. this is interesting and i agree that too many kids are watching too much tv or doing too much gaming. my kids are very limited, a movie or two a week, no tv. i can turn off my computer and not turn it on for days - that is the hard part about blogging since i tend to get overwhelmed and feeling behind if i do that. cell phone though is a must have since we don't use a landline. looking forward to your progress report!

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