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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.

1 – 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!

2 – 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.

3 – Children recognize more corporate logos than they do common plants in their backyard.

4 – 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.

5 – 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.

6 – The current generation is at risk of dying earlier than their parents.

7 – 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!

8 – Children are losing the ability to recognize emotions from facial expressions.

9 – 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.

10 – Individualized and original play in children are being lost to reenactments of activities seen in movies, television and video games.

11 – 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.

12 – 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?

13 – 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.

14 – A respect and reverence for the natural beauty that surrounds us are real; it’s thought-provoking and inspiring. Without it, what are we?

So, now I ask you, and I ask myself… how long could I 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 their Facebook Page: Play Again.


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Jennifer Bly
Jennifer Bly
Author of My Kitchen, My Classroom: An Introduction to Homeschool, creator of The Deliberate Mom, and Deliberate Homeschooling. Jennifer writes about parenting, her faith, and life with her husband and two girls. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Applied Human Service Administration Degree with a specialization in Early Learning in Child Care.

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