Will you join us in taking the pledge to observe a screen-free week (work and school assignments not included) on May 5-11 this year? Screen-free week, sponsored for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, encourages families to “turn off screens and turn on life”!
“…children are spending way too much time with screens—a staggering 32 hours a week for preschoolers and even more for older kids. Miniaturized media technology, including cell phones featuring child-targeted apps, mp3 players, iPads, and other hand-held devices, mean that children are immersed in screens, and the things they sell, nearly every waking moment.
You know the costs, as well: poor school performance, childhood obesity, and problems with attention are just a few. Regardless of content, excessive screen time changes children’s fundamental connection to the world. It deprives them of hands-on creative play—the foundation of learning, creativity, constructive problem solving, and the capacity to wrestle with life to make it meaningful.
And you also know the vital importance of helping children and families find fun and engaging alternatives to screen time—opportunities to explore their own ideas and creations, enjoy each other, and take pleasure in the world around them.” –Susan Linn, Ed.D., Director, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
In my own home, it is a daily struggle to keep the media consumption of my three oldest children under control. We have adopted the rule that you must have been creative, played outdoors, have homework and chores done, and have read before you can consider playing a non-violent game or watching a show for 30 minutes before bed. On weekends, we may watch a nature show or movie together for a longer period of time. Just today, due to some sneaky early risers, we have had to put a pass code on the television in our family room, the iPad, and the laptop. In fact, the “early-riser-media-consumer” in our family today gets points for creativity at 5:00am. He/she had drawn a line down a legal pad and was “comparing and contrasting” two movies “like in English class in school” when I poured my first cup of coffee!
We don’t currently subscribe to cable, so I suppose we are commercial-free, and yet the impact of screen time is still felt in my household. I generally find that not only will my children consume “television” (Netflix on all sorts of devices) with wild abandon if left to their own, they will also get up from watching a show or playing a game in worse shape than when they sat down! Their true needs for social connection, as well as for physical and creative outlets, are clearly not met by media.
Here’s a note I received this afternoon from my daughter, upon announcing “Screen-Free Week is coming up again, guys!”:
Screen-Free Week…like cod liver oil?
As I guide my children, it’s important that I also reflect on my own habits. Why is it that my baby desperately grabs for my cell phone and wants to chew on it…could it be that I have my focus on the news on my phone when I’m nursing him? Creative? I’m lucky to have make time to improve my skills drawing, sewing, or knitting. I don’t watch much on television, but I sure can Pinterest for hours, justifying my time because I’m working, meal-planning, or designing the garden of my dreams. I’ve been working hard to make time to draw with my children, take a walk, workout, and basically take my own words to heart. Here’s a humble drawing from MY “main lesson book” last week…
My Earth Day Drawing
My family will be screen-free May 5-11. I want my children to know that being present, being part of “real life”, is more important than virtual reality. And, it seems that one week of screen-free life makes a huge impression, as evidenced by my daughter’s note above! My point…exactly.
Join us on Thursday, May 8 from 5-7pm for some old-fashioned play around the farm. The weekly Good Earth Farmer’s Market Family Meal will be a yummy picnic dinner you can take home or enjoy that night on the grounds while you relax and play. Watch for a link to reserve your picnic next week and watch for an invitation to fill out a “Screen-Free” pledge card at the sign in/sign out table next week!