Everyone has been asked to turn off the TV, computer, apps and video games as part of “Screen-Free Week.” Sara Adelmann, spokeswoman for Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says one study estimates that school-age children spend more time with screen media than in any other activity except sleeping. Adelmann says, “What we ask during Screen-Free Week is for children and adults to give up digital entertainment for seven days and to spend that extra time reading, playing, daydreaming, enjoying the outdoors and reconnecting with family and friends and participating in other offline fun.”
A recent survey found that just in the past two years, the time children spend on media devices has tripled. While visiting the organization’s website will demand the use of a computer screen, she’s hoping you’ll get some ideas at www.screenfree.org and then switch off the computer. “We have a list of 101 activities that you can do screen-free, for example: write a story, read a book, write a letter, write to your favorite author, draw with chalk outside, make playdough, host a potluck,” Adelmann says. “There are a lot of activities you can do that don’t involve screens and most of them don’t cost a whole lot.”
Excessive screen time can be linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, attention problems and poor sleep time, while it’s becoming more of an issue as tablets and smart phones become more common. Sometimes, though, it’s impossible to give up screentime. “What we ask during Screen-Free Week is that you give up digital entertainment,” Adelmann says. “We absolutely understand that people can’t give up screen use for work or homework. We’re really asking people to try to figure out ways to have fun and spend your extra time involved in offline activities.”
Two Iowa communities are taking a very active role this week, including Alleman in central Iowa and Muscatine in eastern Iowa. Events include an old-time fishing event, a mother-daughter spa day and a father-son dodgeball night, along with family activities at bowling alleys, batting cages and libraries.