Screen Detox- 9 Days In

As promised I’m going to share about our TV fast, or detox as the professionals call it. First, let me explain our TV and screen rules prior to the fast. We only allowed TV and screens Friday through Sunday. Friday evening the kids typically viewed a movie together, and then watched about 2 hours of TV on Saturday and Sunday. They really enjoy getting up early and watching Netflix on Saturday mornings. I viewed this time as relaxing for them. However, it quickly became the very opposite of relaxing. They fought over which shows to watch, manipulated each other and sometimes ended up watching more than they were supposed to. Our oldest was also finding ways to sneak in screen time. He was playing a dinosaur role playing game on the ipad, each day an egg would hatch and a new dinosaur was added to his collection. He began by asking if he could check to see if his egg had hatched each morning. I saw no big deal with letting him take a quick peek each morning and consented to this “illegal” screen time. However, being the crafty sinner… I mean young boy, that he is, this quickly spiraled into 10-15 minutes of hiding somewhere and actually playing the game. We gave him a couple warnings and then finally put an end to the egg checking scheme. This decision was met with massive moodiness and disrespect. When challenged with his disobedience he was not repentant… instead he challenged us back with his disrespectful attitude.

This left Calvin and I thinking. We know screens are addictive. Our kids often have a hard time sleeping. Screens make everyone argue… everyone is cranky. Even with strict limitations we began to feel that screens were not healthy for our children.  Calvin pulled up a study from Psychology Today which suggested a two-week tv detox and we decided to give it a try.

We are now 9 days into our TV fast. I promise you, the first 3 days were the most difficult. No glancing at a quick funny cat video on daddy’s iphone, no checking to see where Megalodon was last spotted, no 30 minutes of Sprout for the 3 year old once the big kids headed to school, and worst of all NO Friday night movie. Nada. Nothing. No screens.

The first three days we battled with moody kids. Liam (3) even grabbed my phone and ran off. We began to see the effects of these little once in awhile screen uses. They begged and pleaded and we held our ground. And we did something else. We played with them.

We pulled out beads, and crayons and science experiments. We jumped on the trampoline. We played board games and read questions to each other from little card sets. We listened to more music, we read more. As we inserted ourselves into their lives more we found they complained less about their lack of screens.

The week days were not bad. They are not accustomed to watching TV on those days anyway. But as the weekend approached we knew we needed a plan. On Friday night Calvin drove the kids to the church where they ate a pizza and raw vegetables (gotta off-set that pizza treat!) and roller bladed and played basketball on the courts. On Saturday we spent the morning on the soccer fields and ate lunch together afterwards. We then cleaned up the house together and the kids rode bikes, made things out of sticks and had some crafting time. By the time Sunday hit they were actually breaking out on their own. Elliott and Liam spent HOURS outside playing with a nerf shooter and exploring the small wooded area behind our house. When Liam woke up this morning, Monday morning, He said “I want to play in the secret fort.” This is a drastic change from “I want to watch a sprout show when the kids go to school.” That one sentence alone showed me that this fast was effective in beginning to reset his brain.

I can’t wait to share more when we complete the fast in 5 days! We are coming up with new guidelines as we approach the end.


About the author


Erica is an advocate for simplicity, family time, making a cozy home and loving others well. She is the community coordinator for One Orphan, the orphan care ministry of America World Adoption Association. Erica and Calvin have four young children; Elliott, Charlotte, Lola and Liam. They currently reside in Nashville, TN.

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