My Screen-Free Week manifesto

For The Baltimore Sun

In case you hadn't heard, it is Screen-Free Week. No computers. No televisions. No hand-held devices. (All of this comes with one caveat: your kids can use "screens" to do homework. It isn't like you have to break out the old encyclopedias or go to the public library or anything drastic like that.)

To all of you are participating this week, I say: "Go for it!" I won't invite your kids over and show them a cool new video on YouTube or ask if they want to see Orioles' games highlights. And, I'll cheer for you and your kids when you post about it on Facebook. But you won't be seeing any status updates about how we struggled to get through two rainy days over at our house during Screen-Free Week.

Why? Because we aren't doing it. Yes, we have declined to participate in Screen-Free Week. Sure, this means my kids won't get to put their names in for the drawing for a signed Ravens' football. That was their choice and the consequence of their decision. Who was I to argue? Because, to be perfectly honest, I don't really get it anyway. One week of no screens and then what? Back to normal?

Here's how it works at our house: My kids play outside just about any chance they get and mostly for hours at a time. Both come home from school and do their homework right away so they can go outside. They are both playing baseball this spring and will soon start daily swim team practices. And there is soccer in the fall and basketball in the winter. My younger son plays with Legos for hours on end, and I regularly have to tell my older son to put down his book and GO TO BED (that's the kind of argument I like to have!).  

I want my kids to learn to make good choices about what they do with their time. It isn't about me choosing one week to randomly impose a rule that I don't impose other times of the year. Sure, there are times when they spend too much time watching television or playing video games (Minecraft, anyone?). As a friend of mine, a mom to three boys, says, sometimes they just need to "veg out." And other times we will have to tell them to turn off, tune out and head outside. 

No doubt Screen-Free Week has value, and I applaud all of those kids and parents who were up for the challenge this week. I wish there were enough Ravens' footballs for all of you. Your odds in the drawing got slightly better because we won't be doing it. It is all a part of our strategy of "good enough parenting" and "everything in moderation." That's just how we roll.

Lisa Mathias lives in Baltimore with her husband and two sons. She's fortunate enough to work part time as a child advocate and spends the rest of her time chauffeuring her children around town.  And she'd be lost (literally and figuratively) without her handheld devices. 

Sun file photo. 

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