Screen Free Week! April 29-May 5

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Have you had the TV off and the video games packed away this week?

Preschoolers in the US spend an average of 32 hours a week in front of a screen and older children spend even more time.  Screen-Free Week provides an opportunity to unplug the whole family from smartphones, computers, the television, and video games to re-discover all sorts of activities that are integral to health and happiness.

screenfreeweekFrom playing a sport, going to the park, reading a book, to playing a board game as a family, screen-free activities are healthy for both your body and mind, say Screen Free Week organizers. Committing to a week without screens can be a spring-board for positive changes that will improve well-being and quality of life all year round.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, and others recommend discouraging any screen time for children under the age of two, and less than two hours a day  for older children.

FACTS ABOUT CHILDREN AND SCREEN TIME 

  • Toddler screen time is linked to increased BMI.
  • Television viewing for children 3-5 is linked to increased BMI.
  • For each hour of television viewing per day, children consume an additional 167 calories.
  • Screen time for children under 3 is linked to irregular sleep patterns.
  • Screen time is linked to sleep disturbance in 6- to 12-year-olds.
  • Screen time for children under three is linked to delayed language acquisition.
  • The more time preschool children spend with screens, the less time they spend engaged in creative play (the foundation of learning), constructive problem solving, and creativity.
  • For babies and preschool children, time with screens is negatively correlated with time spent interacting with parents–which is essential for learning.  Even when parents co-view, they spend less time talking to their children than when they’re engaged in activities such as reading or hands-on play with children.
  • Toddler screen time is associated with problems in later childhood, including lower math and school achievement, reduced physical activity, and victimization by classmates.

“The amount of time children spend in front of a screen directly competes with active play, which is proven to develop a child’s overall physical, creative and social skills. Kids need time to play every day, in their homes, schools and neighbourhoods.” says Stephanie Bowen, Director of KaBOOM!, a US non-profit committed to building playgrounds in every neighbourhood.  “Screen Free Week reminds us—adults and children alike—to reclaim that time and go outside and play.”

To inspire ideas for activities that do not include a screen, the organizers of the week, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CFCC) have provided easy-to-follow guides for families, schools, and communities to organize a full program of activities to celebrate the week. Resources include: “Family Meals: Let’s Bring them Back” and a “Screen-Free Week Pledge Card” for kids to sign.

Supporters for Screen-Free Week include public health officials, nutritionists, doctors, schools, community groups and parents who want to promote living life beyond your screen.

“Such wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, apps, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, playing outside, exploring nature and dreaming—activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood.”

Find more: http://www.screenfree.org

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