Kids, Screen Time, and Digital Detox

It’s common knowledge that people – from kids to adults – spend substantial time in front of a screen (e.g. smartphone, laptop, tablet, gaming system, TV, etc.). And it’s common knowledge that excessive screen time is detrimental to a person’s health, mental state, and overall wellness. After studying this topic for a few years, last year I decided to get rid of my smartphone. I now use a flip phone and have also decided to stop texting for the most part and make a call instead. My brain is still thanking me for this! Perhaps I’ll write more on that later.

For now, and speaking of digital detox, here’s a helpful resource for parents who want help scaling down their children’s use of screens: Digital Detox: The Two-Week Tech Reset for Kids by Molly DeFrank. Actually, if you don’t yet have children or if they are very young, it’s best for you to already now implement rules and habits that keep kids’ screen time usage to a minimum. If you don’t give your 8 year old a smartphone, you won’t have to do a digital detox with him or her!

The first part of DeFrank’s book is about the actual digital detox process. She wrote this part from experience. Her family did a digital detox which wasn’t an easy ride; she understands the difficulties and also the helpful strategies. DeFrank’s acronym is UNDO (Unplug cold turkey, Notice your kids’ interests…, Develop a list of activities to do, and Open books to read them). I really appreciate the emphasis on reading. Spending an hour scrolling through Instagram or Facebook on a phone is unhealthy for the mind, whereas spending an hour reading a book is healthy for it! (I realize DeFrank recommends a two-week digital detox period. However, I’d recommend a four-week period. And to be fair, DeFrank’s family actually did extend their detox period for a few weeks.)

The second part of Digital Detox is basically wisdom on what to do after the detox period is over. What next? This part of the book answers that question. If you need a long term post-detox plan, you’ll find good advice here in this part of the book – advice for younger kids and for teens. Finally, DeFrank spends one chapter talking about parents and their use of screens.

Digital Detox by Molly DeFrank is a helpful book for families who want to seriously cut down on screen time usage in the home. This book is full of practical advice for family digital detoxing and moving forward to keep screen time use low into the family’s future. If your family’s screen time use is excessive or on the ups, or if you just want some guidance in how to properly manage screen time in the home, this is one book to get!

Shane Lems
Hammond, WI, 54015