Screen-Free Week was formerly called TV-Turnoff week. The name was changed to Screen-Free Week in recognition of the fact that a significant amount of our kid's screen time is no longer spent in front of a TV.
During Screen-Free Week, April 30 to May 6, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood urges children, families, schools, etc. to "turn off screens and turn on life."
Screen-Free Week 2013:
It is estimated that over 100 million people have participated in Screen-Free Week since it was first observed in 1995.
From TV-Turnoff Week to Digital Detox Week to Screen-Free Week, the weekly observance has helped many kids reduce how much time they spend watching TV and in other screen activities.
Why is this important?
A report by the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that the average child in the United States between the ages of 8 and 18 years old spends just over 10 1/2 hours a day (10:45) using some type of entertainment media (screen time), whether it is watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer, etc.
And that doesn't include time spent texting or talking on a cell phone.
Reducing screen time is important, as extra screen time leads to poor grades and these kids are less likely to get along well with their parents and get into trouble a lot. Studies also show that kids who are aware of fast food ads, which are often shown during commercials, are more likely to be obese.
In addition to setting limits on screen time, you can use Screen-Free Week to reduce your family's dependence on entertainment screen media.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood recommends that you "Use Screen-Free Week as an opportunity to read aloud more to kids, to encourage their own reading and creative writing projects—or just to engage more in conversation."
Find local Screen-Free Week events near you.
You can also:
- Get some books from the library
- Play board games
- Send your kids outside to play
- Help your child find a sport to play
- Start a garden
- Learn to play chess
- Make a pillow fort
You'll be surprised how much extra time you have each day once you turn off the screens, which is why it is important to turn them off for a whole week. While it would be much easier to have a Screen-Free Day, "A week-long turnoff allows sufficient time to explore a wide range of screen-free activities and to develop more productive and rewarding habits."
After Screen-Free Week is over, be sure that you don't let your kids pick up their bad habits again. It can help if you:
- Remember the AAP recommendations of no TV for infants and toddlers less than two years of age and only one to two hours of total screen time for older kids.
- Don't let your kids have a TV in their room.
- Turn the TV off when you or your kids aren't watching a specific show. It is a bad habit and is more distracting than you think to have the TV on in the background.
- Turn the TV off during family meals.
- Get at least one hour of physical activity.
Remember, "Screen-Free Week isn't just about snubbing screens for seven days; it's a springboard for important lifestyle changes that will improve well-being and quality of life all year round."