The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jean Rogers, CCFC:; (617) 896-9377

Screen-Free Week is April 29-May 5, 2019!

Kids, families, schools, and communities across the globe are taking a break from digital entertainment to enjoy life beyond the screen.


Screen-Free Week is almost here! The annual, international celebration takes place in homes, schools, and communities around the world this April 29-May 5, 2019. Screen-Free Week is hosted by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), an advocacy organization dedicated to ending child-targeted marketing. Families, schools, libraries, cities, places of worship, nature centers, museums, and more will host events designed to help children turn off screens in order to connect with family, friends, nature, and their own creativity.

"Screen-Free Week is a breath of fresh air," said Josh Golin, CCFC's Executive Director. "Kids are surrounded by so much media all the time, and most of it is trying to sell them things or encourage them to act or think a certain way. By turning off entertainment screens for a week, kids and families can shut out that noise and rediscover what really feels good, whether that's going for a bike ride, playing outside, or just getting lost in a great conversation."

Reflecting the growing consensus that excessive screen time is displacing essential childhood activities like creative play, Screen-Free Week 2019 is endorsed by 113 prominent international organizations in the fields of public health, nature, and child advocacy, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children & Nature Network, Center for Humane Technology, American Public Health Association, Sierra Club, Reach Out and Read, National WIC Association, American Horticultural Society, ZERO TO THREE, Children and Screens, Center for Digital Democracy, Childhood Obesity Foundation, Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition, Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, Association Montessori International/USA, and many more.

"Screen-Free Week challenges parents to take a one-week break from digital media and to be more thoughtful every day about the digital media choices that they make for their families," said Kyle Yasuda, MD, FAAP, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). "The AAP helps families by offering information and a tool so families can discover what is best about digital media, and how to minimize the distractions it can cause from real life. Parents need to make sure that digital media doesn't take children away from important activities like playing, studying, connecting with friends and family, or sleeping, and a good first step is to create a Family Media Plan."

For this year's celebration, CCFC has partnered with Every Child a Reader, the host of Children's Book Week, which is also taking place April 29-May 5. Children's Book Week is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and is marking its centennial celebration with free readings and book-related events in libraries and bookstores across the country. CCFC and Every Child a Reader have created resources for hosting both weeks together, including joint reading pledge cards in English, Spanish, and French, and a list of children's books about unplugging from digital devices.

Since 1996, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA leaders, librarians, scout leaders, naturalists, and clergy have organized Screen-Free Week celebrations in their communities. This year, SFW organizers have planned nearly 350 public events. Here are just a few of this year's festivities:

  • Screen-FREE Week Frederick, in Maryland, is kicking off its community-wide celebration with a joint Screen-Free Week and Children's Book Week book event, featuring Wall Street Journal columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon. The robust list of Screen-Free Week events can be found here. Frederick's Mayor Michael O'Connell will also be declaring April 29-May 5 as Screen-FREE Week Frederick!
  • In Davis, California, residents will be treated to a full week of screen-free events, from knitting to singing to a community picnic and more.
  • Nevada County, CA, is anticipating 3000 participants in its Screen-Free Week celebration.
  • Brady Smith and actress Tiffani Thiessen will be launching their new children's book, You're Missing It!, during Screen-Free Week, with several book signings across the country. The book celebrates the joys of disengaging from our screens; but in a delightful twist, the children teach this lesson to the adults!
  • Wadsworth Public Library in Wadsworth, Ohio, will be hosting daily screen-free activities for children, including several arts and crafts projects, with board games and puzzles for teens and adults.
  • Students at Newmarket Elementary School in Newmarket, New Hampshire, will enjoy a Harlem Wizards basketball game, animal show, and family dance.

Research shows that there is good cause for encouraging children to take a break from entertainment screens for a week. Children's screen time exceeds public health recommendations, and that excessive use of digital devices can lead to health and wellness problems:

  • School-age children spend more time with screen media - television, video games, computers, tablets and phones - than in any other activity but sleeping.
  • Teenagers consume an average of nearly 9 hours of entertainment media daily, with tweens averaging nearly 6 hours - and these numbers don't include additional media use for school and homework.
  • Children aged eight and younger average 2.25 hours of entertainment media daily, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 18 months avoid screen media (except video-chatting) and that children aged 2-5 limit their screen exposure to 1 hour of high quality content daily.
  • Excessive screen time is linked to a host of problems facing children today, including poor school performance, childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, depression, and attention problems.

Here's what endorsers of Screen-Free Week are saying about this year's celebration:

"Kids today get outdoors less than any generation in history. Too many of our children are missing out on the incredible benefits to social, mental and physical health that come along with spending time in nature. Kids face too many barriers when it comes to outdoor access, and screen time is making them far too content indoors. This Screen-Free Week, tell a kid you love to take a break from tweeting and get to know some real birds in their local park." - Jackie Ostfeld, Director, Sierra Club's Outdoors for All campaign

"Thank you, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, for Screen-Free Week. It is one of the best ways families can experience disconnecting from their screens and reconnecting with each other and the other things they care about in their lives. It's a time to step back and reflect on the role media and technology play in their lives, and what they gain and lose by using it. And, it is a time to make decisions about what they want to change about their screen use when the week is over and they turn their screens back on. TRUCE has been concerned about the impact of entertainment media on children and families for over 20 years and we urge parents to take advantage of this special opportunity to promote the well-being of their families." - Diane Levin, Co-Founder, TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment)

"The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America is an enthusiastic supporter of Screen-Free Week. We know that children need to develop un-'mediated' relationships with the real world through exploration and creative play before engaging with the virtual world. We are grateful to CCFC for its leadership and for providing so many excellent resources to families and educators. Thank you!" Susan Howard, Coordinator, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN)

"The Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring is happy to endorse Screen-Free Week and we are taking the next step! In collaboration with our local library we have coordinated a series of screen-free events for children and families on Salt Spring Island. Fun, evocative, and educational, these events are designed to consider screen time in a whole new way. The Covenant for Child Honouring and its 9 principles offers an organizing principle for societal change. Screen-Free Week is a wonderful way to demonstrate our mission." - Raffi Foundation for Child Honouring

"Screen-Free Week is a wonderful opportunity to unplug and enjoy time together with our family and friends. Wait Until 8th encourages parents and children to take a break from smartphones, tablets, computers and TVs to enjoy adventures outside, board games, long conversations, reading and some much needed down time. Let's all look up instead of down for the week to experience life unplugged." - Brooke Shannon, Founder, Wait Until 8th

"At New Dream, our goal is to question consumption -- including of online media -- and interrogate how it operates in our lives. Is our screen use helping our children? Is it improving our relationships? Is it creating addictive patterns? Is it interfering with our ability to do the things we genuinely enjoy and that truly contribute to our well-being? Screen-Free Week provides us with an opportunity to assess how our screen habits harm or help us, and make informed changes to our behaviors to improve our well-being." - New Dream

"Turning Life On is all about keeping tech in check! That's why we're proud to endorse Screen-Free Week as a wonderful opportunity for families to disconnect from technology and reconnect with each other. There are endless activities that can fill the screen-time void. Our hope is that families can discover these activities together during SFW and continue to engage in them year-round. We know it can be a challenge, but it's worth it!" - Turning Life On

"Parents Across America appreciates the opportunity Screen-Free Week offers families to fully enjoy quality time together -- and perhaps reconsider how much digital technology to invite into our homes. We also hope that it will help raise awareness of the rapid growth of in-school technology and encourage parents to challenge school districts and states to be more cautious, diligent, transparent and accountable about their technology decisions." - Parents Across America

Experts on children and media will be available for interviews prior to and during Screen-Free Week. Additional endorser quotes can be provided upon request, and images for promotional use can be found here.

Fairplay, formerly known as Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, educates the public about commercialism's impact on kids' wellbeing and advocates for the end of child-targeted marketing. Fairplay organizes parents to hold corporations accountable for their marketing practices, advocates for policies to protect kids, and works with parents and professionals to reduce children's screen time.