Screen Time, Free Time, & Living Intentionally

Welcome to our living room, for a Saturday morning family conversation! The four of us all squeezed in on the couch.

While we’ve done various things to limit or manage screen time, there always seems to be something that hinders it. More screen time creeps into our home. Our goal isn’t to simply have rules about this.

The goal of our conversation was to understand the heart behind setting limits, and to live intentionally!

This goes for adults and kids. We want to live intentional, loving, productive lives. And as we do this, we can mentor our children in doing the same.

So, we began the conversation by talking about what we’ve noticed about screen-use habits. And what the word “intentional” means.

Then Richard came up with an analogy to teach the girls about our choices (he’s so great at coming up with these things!).

We can think of it this way: there are four doors we can choose to go through when we think about how we use our free time:

  1. Entertainment – an external source entertains you. (Movies, YouTube shows, and gaming…)
  2. Play – doing something fun that doesn’t necessarily produce anything. People of all ages play! Note that the difference between entertainment and play is that we are creative. It also is an excellent opportunity for relating with other people. (Badminton, Legos, going to the beach…)
  3. Productive Fun – this could involve learning, developing a skill, or creating something. (Reading, create a blog, take care of a pet…)
  4. Chores – basically, getting things done for the sake of accomplishing what is necessary. (Weeding, clean the garage…) This one may provide some encouragement to lean into options #2 and #3!

Of course, exactly which category an activity lands in may vary for each person. Someone who doesn’t like cooking probably won’t put “try new recipes” in the Productive Fun category.

Door #3 stood out to our family! The girls liked that option. I shared examples for myself of researching family history because I enjoy it and tried new recipes a lot when we were first married. Some ideas the girls thought they could lean into were running, learning photography, and painting with watercolors. We talked about ideas for how they could lean into these things.

And of course, we revisited the topic of setting time limits for screen time. To help us think about this, we talked about how many hours of discretionary time they have on school days and weekend days.

How about you? Is this a conversation you want to have in your home?

What naturally happens when you’re not intentional with your free time? And which of these four doors do you want to go through?

It’s great to have some time when we can simply relax, and laugh with a show. But we want to choose how much time we spend on this intentionally.

There are so many things we can do to live and love well, to invest in relationships and to live productive lives. We each have gifts, abilities, and interests that we can grow and use more fully. Let’s each be creative and intentional to do this!

Who will you have a conversation about this with?

What kinds of Play do you enjoy, which could spur on creativity, fun, and relationships in your life? What Productive Fun are you drawn to?

Kathryn Featherstone is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and a board-certified Christian Life Coach, who helps people live and love well out of their strengths and their relationship with Christ. She’d like to encourage you in your journey! Write her a note or see her Coaching page.

2 thoughts on “Screen Time, Free Time, & Living Intentionally

  1. Kim Brimm

    I love how thoughtful you are. These are things Dan and I talk about. But never quite as clearly as this. Thanks for your thoughts.


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