For Immediate Release
Screen-Free Week is May 5 – 11, 2014!
Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to spend 7 days unplugged.
BOSTON - Children are spending way too much time with screens -- and it’s not good for them.
- School-age children spend more time with screen media -- television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices -- than in any other activity but sleeping.
- Screen media use is at an all-time high among preschoolers -- according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 32 hours a week watching just television.
- A recent survey found that the amount of time children ages 0-8 spend using mobile devices tripled in two years.
- Screen time is habit forming and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, and attention problems.
- 64% of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV and videos for an average of just over two hours a day -- even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends discouraging screen time for children under two.
For these reasons and more, so many leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (May 5 – 11, 2014), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn on life by turning off screens for entertainment. Endorsers include the National Head Start Association, the National WIC Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Association of Children’s Museums, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the American Public Health Association.
“Such wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing national consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, apps, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the official home of Screen-Free Week. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, exploring nature, and dreaming -- activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood."
Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities. Here are just a few of the upcoming festivities:
- The Irving (TX) Public Library is hosting events all week long including sidewalk chalk art, a bubble bonanza, a science experiment, and opportunities to create books and build with construction materials.
- In NYC, The Uni Project will take up residency all week on a wide stretch of sidewalk in the Lower East Side with their pop-up, open-air reading rooms.
- The Wooden Horse toy store in Los Gatos, CA has a week of activities planned, starting with a pajama party and story time and ending with a play day that will be filled with arts & crafts, games, and races. A game night and nature-themed activities will also be offered during the week.
- Spring Garden Recreation in York, PA will be joining with local businesses and Recreation departments to offer an activity for each day of the week free of charge. They’re starting the week off with a kids’ biathlon.
- In Cambridge, MA families will celebrate Screen-Free (Screen-Wise) Week with cooking from the garden, building and playing with cardboard tubes, a kids’ walk and picnic at Fresh Pond, exploring materials with magical properties, and sketching plants and trees. They’ll end the week with a Mother’s Day bike ride.
Here’s what other experts and advocates are saying about Screen-Free Week:
Social media, reality television and the relentless need to stay virtually connected to the world have consumed our lives and have taken away opportunities to create those invaluable family memories that our parents and grandparents love to reminisce about. We should all take the time to turn off the television, put away the cell phones and take a walk, visit a local cultural center or just have a good ole family dinner with the ones that we love.
-Angele’ Doyne, Program Associate
National Black Child Development Institute
Screens play an ever-increasing role in our daily lives, and this is why we need to be deliberate in taking time to disconnect and go outside to play. Screen-Free Week is an excellent opportunity to challenge yourself, your family, and your friends to find screen-free ways to play. Make time to explore your neighborhood or visit a local park, have friends over for a board game and leave the TV off. Make plans to have regular screen-free play days. Embrace the challenge and you will be rewarded with a richer experience.
-Carly Summers, Executive Director
US Play Coalition
What our kids see on a screen is someone else’s creativity. It is not their own. Our children are growing up into a world where they will more than ever need to be innovative, adaptable and above all, creative. Having the courage to question the new normal of screen saturation in our kids’ lives and allowing our homes to be low or no screen environments will give them the hugest advantage in their lives to come – because it gives them the space and time to transform passive consuming into active creativity.
-Kim John Payne, Author of Simplicity Parenting
The tendency to use television and video games as a ‘babysitter’ is having significant negative consequences on our children – increased medical conditions related to childhood obesity and inactivity and decreased social skills are on that list. Embracing Screen-Free Week is an outstanding way to refocus on strengthening family relationships, building interpersonal skills and developing healthy lifestyles. Ensure your children have great childhood memories to share with their children by unplugging during Scree-Free Week. Visit the zoo, read to each other, plan/shop/prepare/eat a nutritious meal as a family, jump rope, share stories about your family history while taking a walk together…the list is endless!
-Sandra York, Executive Director
We know what we need to do: we need to get moving. Insufficient physical activity, combined with a poor diet, is the second leading cause of preventable death. I encourage young and old alike to celebrate Screen-Free Week by turning off the television and taking a walk, playing with the kids, or simply getting outside. You’ll be glad you did.
-Edward Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, Minnesota Commissioner of Health
Minnesota Department of Health
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children. CCFC is a project of Third Sector New England (www.tsne.org).