International Screen-Free Week Encourages Families to “Enjoy Life Beyond the Screen”

The following article contains excerpts from a press release issued by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood on April 25, 2017.

May 1, 2017

Screen-Free Week kicked off May 1, encouraging schools, libraries, families, and communities around the globe to host events designed to help children turn off screens in order to connect with nature, family, and their own creativity. Organized by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the celebration runs through May 7.

“It’s time to move beyond questions of whether screen media is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and acknowledge a simple truth: far too many children—and adults—are spending far too much time with screens,” said Josh Golin, executive director at CCFC, in a press release. “Screen-Free Week is a great way to take a much-needed break from entertainment screen media and rediscover the joys of face-to-face interaction and offline play.”

Screen-Free Week 2017 is endorsed by 47 public health and child advocacy organizations, including the American Public Health Association, Reach Out & Read, the National WIC Association, The National Black Child Development Institute, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). These organizations acknowledge that excessive screen time is displacing essential childhood activities.

According to CCFC, research shows that children’s screen time exceeds public health recommendations. For example, 64% of infants and toddlers watch TV and videos or use apps for an average of just over two hours a day, even though the AAP recommends no screen time for children under 18 months.

“Today’s children grow up immersed in digital media, which means they often are connecting with a screen instead of peers, teachers, or their parents,” said Fernando Stein, MD, president of the AAP. “All this digital media can have both positive and negative effects on healthy development, but Screen-Free Week provides families with an important break from all these digital distractions.”

Dr. Stein added the importance of allowing for enough time during the day for children “to play, study, talk, or sleep,” and encouraged parents to be their child’s “media mentor.”

“That means teaching them how to use media as a tool to create, connect, and learn,” he said.

For Screen-Free Week 2017, CCFC has partnered with Every Child A Reader, organizers of Children’s Book Week, also taking place May 1-7. More information about the celebration can be found at ScreenFree.org.

Tips for engaging in “unplugged play” that encourages families to connect and helps kids build important developmental skills can be found at TheGeniusOfPlay.org, The Toy Association’s website for parents and caregivers.

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