Modern technology is a wonderful thing, but when 75% of Americans admit to texting while using the toilet, you have to wonder if we've taken our desire for constant connection one step too far. We're logging way too many hours in front of our screens, and we're logging them in some pretty weird places.
Even more concerning? The fact that our children are watching and emulating our behavior.
Celebrating Screen-Free Week 2012
Since 2010, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has been organizing an annual event known as Screen-Free Week in an effort to support and encourage parents and educators who want to protect children and teens from the harmful effects of excessive media consumption.
According to their website:
"Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff) is a national celebration where children, families, schools, and communities spend seven days turning off entertainment screen media and turning on life… 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."
Sure, a little TV might be fine in moderation, but factor in video games, computers, cell phones, etc., and you have to wonder if today's youth — and their parents — are doing anything but staring at a screen. It's fairly obvious that we could all benefit from a break.
Tips for Surviving Screen-Free Week
This year, Screen-Free Week will take place during the week of April 30-May 6. To participate, all you need to do is turn off any entertainment screen media in your home. Wondering if you can actually survive? Consider the following ideas and options:
- Make rules that will work for your household, even if that means turning off the Wii, but still allowing family movie night. It's better to start with small changes you can actually accomplish.
- Don't think your children spend that much time in front of a screen? Try writing it all down in a screen-time log for one week — you may find that it's more than you think.
- Educate yourself by reading about how TV affects your child. You'll be more likely to unplug once you read about the negative effects of overexposure.
- Be prepared. Check out extra books from the library, plan playdates and park outings with friends, and keep art supplies, games, and toys within easy reach.
- Keep a copy of this printable list of things to do instead of turning on the TV taped to your refrigerator.
- Set a good example by limiting your own screen time.
- Don't panic when your kids complain that they're bored — some educators believe that boredom is actually good for children.
Will You Go Screen-Free?
As a work-at-home mom with one child not yet in school, I'm apprehensive about turning off our television for seven whole days — those Power Rangers make some really excellent babysitters. But Screen-Free Week is all about breaking bad habits, and I think the imaginary babysitting crime fighters are probably proof that it's time for my family to take the plunge.
So for one week, my kids will be officially screen-free, not a Power Ranger in sight. I, however, will be hiding in the bathroom with my iPhone, getting my daily Facebook fix.
Plus, I'll have to keep up with my texting.
Will you celebrate Screen-Free Week at your house? And — be honest — do you use your phone in the bathroom?