Disconnect in order to reconnect with the people around you.
If you've ever needed an excuse to do a screen detox, now's your chance. Today kicks off the beginning of Screen-Free Week, running from April 29 to May 5. It's a global call to families, educators, and communities to power down the devices and replace the hours that would normally be spent online with screen-free entertainment. From the website:
The week is promoted by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an organization working to end child-targeted marketing on the basis that commercialism has a negative impact on children's development. Screens are where much of this marketing comes from, which is why urging parents to turn them off is a crucial first step.
"Even though it’s about turning off screens, Screen-Free Week isn’t about going without – it’s about what you can get! An hour once dedicated to YouTube becomes an hour spent outside; ten minutes wiled away on social media turn into ten minutes spent doodling; a movie on a rainy afternoon is replaced by time spent reading, chatting, or playing pretend!"
The campaign originated in 1994 when Henry Labalme and Matt Pawa created TV Turnoff Week. Over the years millions of kids participated by turning off their TVs and going outside to play instead. In 2010 it was turned into Screen-Free Week and taken over by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC).
The website has a wealth of resources for anyone wanting to participate. Perhaps most valuable are the stories from people who have gone screen-free and discovered wonderful opportunities to connect with each other in new ways. For example, one mother wrote,
"I saw my 9-year-old daughter lying on the floor, just daydreaming. I immediately thought, 'Oh no, she is bored, maybe she could...' then I stopped myself and just let her lie there. She wasn't bored, just deep in thought. We don't always have to be doing something!"
The problem with screens is, when they're easy to access, it's hard to resist them. Once that temptation is gone, it becomes easier to find other things to do. Use the following list, if you or your kids are needing inspiration.
CCFC makes it clear that Screen-Free Week does not mean an excuse to skip homework projects that require a screen to complete; the goal is to avoid screens for entertainment purposes, but teachers are urged to consider alternative ways of assigning homework that are not so screen-based.
In an ideal world, every week would be Screen-Free Week, but this is a great place to start.