Next Monday, May 5, kicks off the beginning of Screen-Free Week 2014. Presented by the Campaign for a Commerical-Free Childhood, Screen-Free Week is an annual event that takes place around the world every spring. The goal of Screen-Free Week is to encourage families to take a 7 day hiatus from using entertainment screen media, such as iPads, video games, movies and television. It’s nearly impossible to take a complete break from screens – we use technology daily for work and school – but it is possible to go a week without using screens for distraction and entertainment.
Instead of looking at screen entertainment as a good or bad thing, we can instead focus on the adventure of finding new things to do without the crutch of technology. Taking a break from screens gives us an opportunity to reconnect without distractions, and to reflect on whether our consumption of media is balanced or not.
Of course, any of us can opt to take a break from screens at any point in our lives. But one of the huge benefits of Screen-Free Week is doing it in the company of others. Imagine if every family on your block participated! After school the front yards could be filled with kids running, laughing, and playing together. Parents could reconnect with neighbors, building community that lasts long after Screen-Free Week is over.
How can you participate? Start off by taking the Screen-Free Week Pledge. Then decide what a Screen-Free Week will look like for your family. Will you totally disconnect? Maybe you’ve never tried to monitor screen time, so you’ll choose to limit it to 30 minutes or an hour a day. Maybe you’ll choose a few days to go screen-free. The details aren’t important, and you can’t fail Screen-Free Week. The important part is taking some time to really think about your media consumption, and how best to incorporate into a life that also includes plenty of time for distraction-free connection, creativity and play.
Once you’ve decided to participate, spend a few minutes browsing the Screen-Free Week website. Find a Screen-Free Week event near you, or check out their helpful guide on how to prepare for a great Screen-Free Week.
Whenever we take a break from screens, I find that the most resistance occurs right at the beginning. Let the kids have their space to complain for a few minutes. Listen and empathize (we know it’s hard – we love our screens, too!). Ask them how they think they can participate. Prepare yourself ahead of time to have some suggestions and activities ready to go, and before you know it they’ll be discovering the joys of life unplugged.
On Monday I’ll share some screen-free suggestions of our own. Be sure to come back and check them out … and then get ready to disconnect from screens and reconnect with the ones you love!
Will you be participating in Screen-Free Week? What would a successful Screen-Free Week look like for your family?