It’s that time of year again – the week that many are eager to celebrate, while some may need some convincing to let go of their mobile device: Screen-Free Week. This year’s screen-free week runs from May 5-11 as organized by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. The purpose of the week is to refresh our attention to the world outside of our TVs, computers, and mobile devices and appreciate the opportunities to be active outside that this beautiful spring time in Boston offers. It is especially important for kids to take a step back from digital media once in a while because they are even more affected by the sedentary time spent in front of the screen as well as the constant exposure to advertising. Research from the Center on Media and Child Health directed by Dr. Michael Rich at Boston Children’s Hospital shows kids’ preferences are easily influenced by advertisements. The youngest children, especially those aged 8 and below, cannot tell that advertisements trying to sell them a product or mindset may not be in their best interest. The best example is junk food commercials. If they watch a lot of TV, they are likely to see tons of commercials featuring junk food; and if they see it, they often want it.
Family members of all ages can benefit from celebrating screen-free week and limiting screen time throughout the year. It is helpful to start the trend of limiting screen time early so that children grow up expecting not to watch too much TV or eat their meals in front of it. For preschoolers, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends aiming for fewer than 14 hours of screen time per week. But on average, children tend to spend more than 18 hours in front of a screen every week. It is a tough but oh so valuable habit to change. Get the guidance you need for just how to go about making this change in your home with tips from Dr. Michael Rich found in the Mediatrician’s guest post, “How to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time.”
Parents can role model for their children the importance of celebrating screen-free week by limiting their own time in front of a screen. Sign up to show your commitment to going screen-free next week on the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s Facebook event page. Then, starting on Monday, be sure to share with Kohl’s and Boston Children’s Hospital’s Healthy Family Fun Program on Facebook your family’s tips for keeping busy indoors or out during the time that you might have spent surfing the internet or watching TV. Get some inspiration for activities from our previous post about limiting screen time here.
(Image courtesy of ScreenFree.org)