The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, is sponsoring Screen Free Week for April 29-May 5. Young children now spend 32 hours a week in front of screens - TVs, computers, iPads, and cell phones. Recent research on the effect of the overuse of computers and hours spent indoors on the vision of children strongly suggests that screen exposure be limited (Seppa, Science News, 2013; NAEYC, 2012). So...take a break next week and turn them all off.
Go outside and explore nature with your children. Play games together. Draw and paint with real art materials and make messy mud pies. Sing songs. Loudly. Dance with joy. In the evening talk about how it feels to think up your own entertainments,and end the day by reading a great book together.
Teach your children what to do when there's no power - when the grid is down and the screens go dark - and you will have enabled them to be more self-confident, taught them ways to reduce stress, gifted them with better vision, instilled an appreciation for books and the arts, and shown them how to entertain themselves no matter where they are.
There's another benefit. Elizabeth Marshall and Özlem Sensoy, editors of Rethinking Popular Culture and Media, ask us to use Screen Free Week as a time to "reconsider our relationship with our media-saturated society and to ask whether these media support or undermine the democratic values we espouse." Children need to be out in the world meeting real people and learning how to live and play with them. They cannot learn this from a screen - only from give and take with those who agree and those who disagree with what game to play next - situations that require the type of social problem solving that makes a pluralistic, democratic society work.
So give it a try. Can you keep your fingers off the keyboard? Can you detach you child from the e-notepad? Can you bury those cellphones? It's only for one week...
Let us know how it goes.
You can find activities and resources for Screen-Free Week at http://www.screenfree.org/. If you are a teacher you can sign up your class to participate. Here are some other resources:
Find great books to read here. http://www.teachpeacenow.org/book.html