Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Real-Life Dangers of a Screen-Free Childhood

It all starts at a very young age when you choose not to introduce your children to the world of fancy, flashing electronics. You end up with a life of little schemes and threatened home security. A screen-free childhood can be VERY dangerous. Books are at risk, household odors develop, first aid is required, sleepless nights, added expenses and unauthorized uses of axes are all menacing situations you may encounter!

Children Playing Painting | Arpad Cserepy Oil Paintings

I remember when our child was just about five. Her showers seemed incredibly long. I began to suspect some foul play was involved but every time I interrogated her, I received no answers. Finally, after feeling the time had been extremely excessive, I crept into the bathroom, peeked through the curtain and behold! I see a child showering and a book held high away from the streaming water.

Those poor Bobbsey Twins were inches from their demise. No wonder she took so long in there, she was catching up on her reading!!! Those poor books didn't stand a chance.

Children Playing Outdoors Painting by MotionAge Designs

Let's fast forward to the age of nine. Her bedroom began to develop the most horrendous odor. Finally my husband and I maintained that this was no average farm aroma and began some investigating. And what did he find lurking suspiciously in a corner but a rotting jar of some kind of bubbling, fermented liquid! When we confronted our daughter on the subject, she exclaimed, "Carla Emory said the smell will last just a little while but eventually the juice will turn into vinegar".

She had transformed her bedroom into some kind of medieval laboratory! Can a child reading homestead books be safe? Perhaps a video game would keep her out of trouble because the unfortunate part of all that reading is that she wanted to start actually DOING.

Ball party, children playing Painting by Claude-Emile Schuffenecker

As we were studying England, she decided she was going to make a four-course dinner in honor of menus she had seen of those fabulous feasts. She wanted to do it all by herself (she was 10 but was becoming quite an accomplished chef with all this screen-free living). Apparently some fried potato item was on the menu and she got a bit too close to that splattering oil and received an unfortunate burn on her little arm. She didn't say anything until after the meal because she was enjoying herself too much. She had self-treated it in the meantime with a bottle of lavender which explained the heavy fragrance in the air (the audacity to administer her own first aid!).

While I did have to tone down her elaborate meal making schemes and create more ground rules (i.e., report any accidents immediately to headquarters), I must admit that she sure can cook right now! Anything she sees she can make or bake but imagine the chaotic kitchen at the time... Imagine Cal/OCIA!

Children At Play Artwork By William Jabez Muckley Oil Painting & Art Prints  On Canvas For Sale - PaintingStar.com Art Online Store

By the age of 11, the requests started coming in. She would like a book on making her own paint (who thinks of these things?). She would like some crochet thread and a hook and perhaps even some knitting needles. She would like to make a drop spindle (I didn't even know what this was). But how can this be when I didn't even know how to do these things? But there it was, the answer was presented to me with her chubby little fingers, The Complete Guide to Needlework was explaining everything (It wasn't an exciting book by any means but it was quite comprehensive!). "You simply follow the instructions mom!"

As a homeschooling teacher, I felt compelled to feed these hobbies but I'm sure some may think I should have just kept a television going to keep her occupied and the expenses down?

Children playing in the garden Painting by Czech

Then at the age of 13, I notice the sleeping habits became topsy-turvey. During the day she would be so tired (is this due to growing pains?). But no, apparently the issue was that she snuck into the library at night, removed the unabridged copy of Oliver Twist from the shelf and couldn't sleep until Dickens had told his complete tale! And this would happen with each new novel on the shelf. Teen rebellion at its finest. 

Maybe a big dose of social media would keep her more lethargic and sleepy? A love of books was certainly a problem in this household. After all, books were the norm many moons ago, perhaps this old fashioned childhood with "nothing exciting" to keep you busy was way too archaic? 

Children Playing with Dogs Painting | Narcisse Dìaz de la Peña Oil Paintings

And then there was the day I remember quite well. My husband and I had gone into town for supplies and our daughter (now 14 or 15) was to stay back, finish her homeschool work as well as have lunch ready for us when we returned. I remember coming home quite famished and was elated when I saw the meal. It was nice and hot chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy! We began to enjoy the hearty fare when I realized WAIT, we didn't HAVE any chicken in the freezer! Where in the world did this come from as our home is far from any store? And then she proceeded to tell us that she had butchered the chicken this morning. And yes, de-feathered and de-gutted it and all. Yes, she did indeed use an axe when no one was home to monitor her safety. I couldn't believe my ears! 

This screen-free childhood could be treacherous!

Sold Price: A very rare oil painting of playing children by Jetses - June  4, 0116 4:00 PM CEST

So, if you would like to refrain from any mischievous adventures, experiences and actual “extreme” learning in your home, then I suggest you make sure your child owns an IPAD, has 24 hour access to a television and can be tapping on a cell phone any time in between it all. Clearly, you can see where such thinking with books as their best friends and the great outdoors can lead. 

Reuben Hunt - 19th Century genre oil painting of children playing For Sale  at 1stDibs

As a side note, I remember growing up in the suberbs with my two brothers. We would climb trees, build forts, make fruit stands from our avocados, rally the neighborhood children to play basketball and baseball games. It was a beautiful childhood and it breaks my heart that so many children are growing up with artificial memories in front of screens. What kind of memories will they have to look upon when they are adults?

A Group Of Children Playing The Game 'oranges And Lemons' In A Domestic  Interior Artwork By Harry Brooker Oil Painting & Art Prints On Canvas For  Sale - PaintingStar.com Art Online Store

"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."
~ John 10:10

Kittys Tea Party Artwork By Harry Brooker Oil Painting & Art Prints On  Canvas For Sale - PaintingStar.com Art Online Store

I know this poem is a bit nerdy but I think it shares the concept of this subject that has been so dear to my heart. As I see more and more of this "modern childhood" experience, I feel the need to share about old fashioned childhoods - the ones that dreams are made of.

Too Old To Play Photograph by Harry Brooker


Each parent gets to decide....

A "Little House on the Prairie" life running across the lawn...

or a screen-filled life, boredom, yawn?

Shall I inspired a "Green Gables" imagination fulls of capers, plans and dreams...

or give them one more thing to robotically watch and stream?

Will I encourage a "Caddie Woodlawn" childhood full of family and fresh air...

or teach them to touch a screen as if no one is there?

We can give our children the beauty of these beloved classics in a real life home.

We can give them a "Secret Garden" or "Swiss family Robinson" abode.

British Paintings: Harry Brooker - The Young Kite Makers

Do you remember wishing you could live that life when you were a child?

That storybook life?

We can give that gift to our children.

We can give our children more than the flashing screens that this culture offers.

We can give them laughter, jumping, running, building, climbing, making, crafting, playing, creating, pretending, resourcefulness... pinecones, feathers, tents, paints, leaves, trees, forts, art, dress up, and old fashioned play.

We can give them a true childhood

We can give them the gift of memories.

"Preserve your memories. Keep them well.

What you forget you can never retell." 

~ Louisa May Alcott

Busy Hours - Harry Brooker as art print or hand painted oil.

You May Also Be Interested in:

The Gift of a Childhood (Playtime without Toys and Electronics - Creating a Home Library)

The Gift of a Childhood II

The Biblical Cure for Bored Children

DIY Projects Based on Books


  1. This was excellent! The artwork was picked to perfection too. I enjoyed the poem and reading the memories. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouragement! It means a lot ❤️I hope you are enjoying a beautiful winter season ❤️

  2. This is beautiful. It's a fine account of the differences we can make as parents. I love that she was reading in the shower & "growing things" in her bedroom :-) Good girl~

    1. Thank you ❤️ I thought you would appreciate that! She also learned to knit and crochet on her own... so much learning happens when children are given access to a huge library and lots of screen-free time ❤️

  3. I remember a Shetland Sheep dog named Sunny. He would pull the ambulance, he would be the patient. He took place of dolls he would get all dressed up and go for a ride in the umbrella stroller. We'd come home from town and 2 of my 4 girls would have a show on a stage and freshly made snacks. They did have a computer and a television but only 4 hours a week allowed. When Beth went to sit in on a computer course at the High School she already knew all they were teaching. Ah, homeschooling was so much fun, and my youngest has 2 books published... There is no better way!

    1. I LOVE THAT ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you for sharing!! That is all exactly it! Just four hours a week and they are able to keep up with the times and still be children. Just beautiful ❤️ I think our daughters would have been great friends!

  4. I loved everything about this, JES. It was delightful to read of your daughter's adventures in learning so many wonderful and useful things, and of her great interest in these various pursuits. The childhood she enjoyed provided much "scope for imagination," as Anne Shirley would say. Now that she is grown, would you be comfortable sharing if her interests are still varied, or if she has settled on a few that she loves most? Blessings, Nancy

    1. Thank you so much Nancy for your kind words ❤️off the top of my head I will say that her interests are more in the lines of becoming a homemaker herself one day soon... ❤️

  5. I love this. During our home education years, I banned the computer. One day, my husband was home on a school day and was watching our sons as they headed out to the backyard for "Physical Fitness" activities. I was at the stove and he was at the sink looking out the window. The sound of clashing began to come through the open window. Suddenly I heard several gasps and words beginning to form but not fully making their way out of his mouth. I took a few steps sideways, not looking out the window, and dropped the blinds to cover the window. I spoke not a word and walked back to the stove. He turned around, face incredulous, and said, "Is that how you handle that??" I shrugged and said, "Yep." He stood there gaping at me, this man who, as a boy, was brought home by the police for climbing to the roof of his elementary school building with his little buddies, shook his head at me, and walked away, carefully averting his eyes from the backyard.

    Several weeks prior, we had done a medieval study. The boys were convinced they needed staffs to add to their knightly training, so we all went to a home improvement store and picked out two of the thickest dowels they had. They were impressively huge. What my dear husband thought they were going to do with them was beyond me. I guess having a vague idea and actually seeing/hearing it are two very different concepts. I highly and loudly second no screens!

    1. LOVE that ❤️ Boys being boys ❤️!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing - it really is a breath of fresh air to hear from all of you!

  6. Several weeks prior, we had done a medieval study. The boys were convinced they needed staffs to add to their knightly training, so we all went to a home improvement store and picked out two of the thickest dowels they had. They were impressively huge. What my dear husband thought they were going to do with them was beyond me. I guess having a vague idea and actually seeing/hearing it are two very different concepts. I highly and loudly second no screens!

  7. How lovely, Jes. I grew up in a simpler time in the 1950s/60s. My grandchildren don't have TV and read a lot. 'Little House on the Prairie' is a favourite.

  8. Fortunately I taught my son to read even before I had fully decided on homeschooling; I figure if you can read you can never be bored. I also read aloud books that were above his reading level (people knew me as the lady that reads to her son on the bus in our previous home town).
    Some of his favorite books were Farmer Boy, The Secret Garden, The Mitten, as well as more current ones like Frindle, Lunch Money, and the Series of Unfortunate Events, plus books about all critters from dinosaurs to sea slugs.
    For a while when we had no television or internet our entertainment was reading to each other.

    I agree that kids that read are likely to get into something; kids that don't read are likely to get into something, though not nearly as interesting and creative. She will have much better stories to tell her kids (my son never made vinegar, but he did have a 'pet' kombucha for a while).

    Take care :-)

    1. A pet kombucha scoby counts ❤️ And yes, I started our read aloud above reading level too and kept on checking in on each chapter to see if it was understood. I did Secret Garden when she was 4 and she thoroughly enjoyed it ❤️ and then it kept going and going!

  9. I agree completely...I need to pray about reducing screen time in our home again. My children are older (10 thru 17) and they do use computers and play video games, but I hate it and I wish they would spend more time outdoors. It's always been a hard thing for me to regulate because their dad sees it differently than I do; he loves video games and considers it a wholesome family activity that can be enjoyed daily without consequence. I've tried to compromise and just have a daily limit, but it seems to be creeping up, especially over the holiday break, and I truly appreciate the reminder that life is so much fuller without screens. I may just share this post with my children to remind them, too.

    1. Being that your husband is on board, it seems the daily limit is the way to go (but it only works if you monitor that)... We homemakers need to have wisdom to work around our own individual circumstances, don't we? ❤️

    2. Could you please share some more advice when your husband sees differently about screen time. My situation is similar to Laura and I am not sure how to handle it with my husband. We spend way too much on screens with videos, phones, games etc.. But I do not want to overstep boundaries with my husband. He has a lot of screen time. It is a tough situation.


    3. Hi there ❤️ I do see your situation... I think the best way would to be to try to engage your children in other off-screen activities (by playing with them yourself) because who can resist fun time like that with mom? It may become so contagious that your husband may slowly join you all... Or offer alternatives to your husband like talking walks together with hot coffee to talk about your goals and dreams (but NEVER directly saying to leave the screen and be with you and the kids because that just doesn't help)... pack a picnic basket on a random day and see if they would all be interested in an outing. It won't help to try and preach to them a less-screen filled life, but to show them by your example the enjoyment of what a screen-less life has to offer... Though it will take time, you may just entice them to the other side as the biblical women before us were told to do in other situations❤️

      "Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear."
      ~ 1 Peter 3:1-2

      I hope this helps! It's not an easy cut and dry answer but through prayer, God can open something up to you that is a tailor-made answer for your family.

    4. Yes, this is a big help. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope to maybe persuade "away" from it all, but with a meek and quiet spirit uh? I have tried the "preaching" and using my words, it doesn't work, only makes it worse. Pushing them further away. My example can go a long way with God's help of course. And yes prayer to God and asking Him to help and show me! Thank you. Very encouraging!!

    5. You're right! Preaching to men never works and I'm thinking because it wasn't the method given to us (We all learn the hard way!!! and don't think I didn't have to learn that lesson myself in my younger married life)... But I think you are on the right track of how to go about it. God bless you in your endeavors! I would also include to not get angry if they don't want to go along with your excursions at the beginning... just keep at it gently with a pleasant spirit... I've seen God work slowly and surely in other areas of my life when I keep a good, steady spirit.

  10. I am dying laughing because this sounds so much like our home with five children and no screens! The kids bath is at the top of our stairs and one evening when our youngest was showering my husband went up the stairs and could see our youngest sons bare feet on the floor in front of the toilet with the shower running. Yup. He was sitting there reading with the shower running. We had so many escapades! But alas they are all grown and our oldest is 42! Now our children are having all the fun with their children. But, we have a homeschool family two doors down and they are our entertainment now and oh, the things those four boys get into! Thanks for sharing today! Best thing I have read in a long time!

    1. Love that memory Lana!!!! ❤️ And thank you for the encouragement! I wasn't sure how this topic was going to set... ❤️

  11. This is a great story!!! I love it!!! And makes me think I could also do better with a little less of social media and television!!!

    1. Good point ♥️ I’m sure that’s true for all of us ☺️

  12. This was an excellent read. I was a change of life baby and grew up with a closer age to my nieces and nephews than with my brothers and sister. The other night on the phone I was reminiscing with one of my nephews ( more like a little brother) about our childhood and all the fun we had. Scabs on our knees and elbows from climbing trees and roller skating on the sidewalks. Memories of playing with Lincoln logs and erector sets and using our imagination to fill our play time. It breaks my heart seeing children glued to devices, ear plugs in their ears never enjoying everything that's around them and always wanting the next thing that the media advertises. It's so sad. They say that a lot of libraries are closing because no one uses them anymore. It breaks my heart.

    1. That is exactly it 💔 I’m hoping this next generation of parents will go back to the “old ways” of raising their beautiful children 🙏

  13. Replies
    1. Thank you! Nice hearing from you Yvette ❤

  14. Wonderful! So impressed your daughter butchered a hen alone. I had a home baked birthday cake yesterday along with fresh whipped cream. The bakers were 11 & 14. ;) My oldest daughter is a culinary student...not sure why she is such an accomplished cook!

    1. Just beautiful!!! I love that!!! And that cake is sure sounding tasty right now ❤

  15. Growing up in the late 50's in a small rural community outside 20 minutes from town I lived every day in the hedgerow and wheat field behind my home. Tv was Mickey Mouse club and thats it. I hope to give these memories to my soon to be grandchild.

  16. This is exactly what I want to give my son. I have some rude women in our neighborhood who criticize me for taking my son out during this cold winter…but he loves it!! I want my son to be healthy, strong, curious and adventurous!! I met a lovely woman on the trail one day. She was taking her four year old son skiing. (We have ski trails nearby). We stopped and chatted. I was in awe! This lovely sahm was taking her son on a skiing lesson during the day. It makes perfect sense to me. I see so many children who are obsese or lack functional skills like running, climbing and exploring. It’s ridiculous!
    Thank you so much 😊

    1. Boys need the outdoors! As long as they are bundled, they are good to go! Keep up the good work! The blessings will abound in the long run dear Rachel ♥️

  17. I don't really understand the benefits pf this so called 'screen-free" life. Okay, you want that kind of childhodd for your child in which they can climb trees, and spend a lot of time outside.
    And using an Ipad, watching tv would rob they from this experience?
    Obviously not.
    Unless the parents are irresponsible enough.
    Because it is up to the parents only to determine the amount of time using the tv, ect.
    Watching some child tale, movie on the tv, computer will not stop the child from spending time with books, or paying outside IF the parents will not let it happen.

    1. Hello Szundra, I completely agree with you! It is up to the parents to control the amount of screen time to make it possible for them to have a life of healthy play. Unfortunately, the screen has become a babysitter of sorts and it is easier for most people to leave the child there sitting calming in front of it... by the time the realize the issue, it is often too late as the child has become addicted to them. Statistics show that kids and teens ages 8-18 spend an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens! This is insane! This is what I am trying to discourage in this post. We too watched family movies on the weekends (I even have a list that I shared here on the blog). I hope the extremeness in this article opens up the eyes of mothers of the alternative that awaits them if they can properly monitor this in their own homes... because honestly, some people don't know of any other way which is sad... because it is how they have been brought up.


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