It’s almost Screen-Free Week—the annual national celebration where children, families, schools, and towns turn off TV, video games, computers, and hand-held devices and turn on life. Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, they play, read, daydream, explore nature, and enjoy spending time with family and friends.
Parents and children spend far too much time with screens. An astonishing average of 32 hours a week for preschoolers and even more for older children. Time with screens is linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, attention issues and other health and social problems. Since 1995, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood have helped millions of children and families around the world turn off screens and turn on life. Miniaturized media technology, including cell phones featuring child-targeted apps, mp3 players, iPads, and other hand-held devices, mean that children are immersed in screens, and the things they sell, nearly every waking moment. Regardless of content, excessive screen time changes children’s fundamental connection to the world. It deprives them of hands-on creative play—the foundation of learning, creativity, constructive problem solving, and the capacity to wrestle with life to make it meaningful. The vital importance of helping children and families find fun and engaging alternatives to screen time—opportunities to explore their own ideas and creations, enjoy each other, and take pleasure in the world around them.
Finding ways to connect as a family is easier when the screens are off. Creating screen free zones and times within the home allows everyone to really be and feel seen and heard in a way they can't when the screens are on. We as parents can model the behavior we want to see in our kids, and screen free week is a perfect time to practice!