Thursday, April 19th, 2012
If you’ve ever needed a reason to re-evaluate your family’s screen time, The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood’s Screen Free Week provides the perfect opportunity.
From April 30-May 1, Screen Free Week encourages all families to “spend seven days turning of entertainment screen media and turning on life.” This annual celebration encourages unplugging from televisions, iPads, smartphones, handheld gaming devices, computers, etc. By reducing dependence on screens, organizers hope that families will take time to “unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend more time with family and friends.”
This annual event resulted from research that concluded “children spend far too much time in front of 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.”
While completely disconnecting from all forms of screens can be harsh, Screen Free Week can be a time to talk about your family’s screen time. Creating conversations can be a healthy way to evaluate the role that screens play. Talking about what your child sees on a screen, how they feel when they play video games, or spend too much time on the computer may be a better solution than completely cutting off screen time.
Talking about how much time you spend with screens and can be helpful in having your child aid you in establishing family limits on gaming. Consider discussing alternatives to the ways screens may be involved in your lives and take this time to learn from your children by using these conversation starters:
- What might be we be missing when we’re watching a DVD in the car? Talk about appreciating the changing seasons and scenery or the kinds of games that you can play in the car such as old school license plate bingo.
- Going out to dinner is family time. What can we do at a restaurant instead of looking at a screen? Steer the discussion towards events that occurred during the day, create conversation around the menu, or play a game of tic tac toe.
- Talk about favorite television shows. Figure out if there’s a way to limit watching in a reasonable way or sit down with your child to learn more about what they are watching on the television.
- Discuss favorite online websites or games. Have them teach you about them and then play with them.
- If you feel guilty about the amount of time you spend on your smartphone, ask your kids what they think. Do they notice? Do they mind? How can you work together towards a solution?
What other ideas do you have for creating conversations about periodically disconnecting and spending time as a screen-free household?
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