Today marks the beginning of International "Screen-Free Week", formerly known as "TV-Turnoff". During this week "schools, families, and community groups pledge to spend seven days without entertainment screen media". You can sign a pledge that states that you will watch "no TV or DVDs, play no video or mobile games and only use the computer if it's required for work".
In discussing Screen-Free Week, a friend happily pointed out that the pledge doesn't specifically include some of the biggest vices: texting or Facebook and other social media. (Though a "family guide" does have some suggestions.) Since the "Screen-Free" week is really targeting children and families and is sponsored by the "campaign for a commercial-free childhood", this over-site is understandable, but the program then fails to address the impact of social sites and texting on its targeted audience. Parents should be in charge of "screen-time", but they just aren't paying attention because they have their noses embedded into their "social-screen". In short: Parents are at fault and should also sacrifice their "social-screen" during this week.
In many peoples lives, technology is so invasive that it has crept in and eaten away at the fabric of what was once considered "everyday life". People eat in restaurants without even talking or looking at the other people who are physically at the table. Children are totally ignored as parents engage in the games and social activities on their phones. Social-screen-addicts are even texting, taking videos and pictures and (tragically) even posting to Facebook while driving!
So, are you a screen-junkie or "social-screen" junkie? Ask yourself a few questions:
How much time passes before you "check" your phone?
Do you text while driving? And were your children in the car??
When was the last time you played a board game with your children or at a family gathering?
When was your last "outdoor day" where you did something physical like hiking, swimming, playing basketball with the kids....?
Last time you had dinner with family or friends, did you put your phone away and actually spend time with them?
Life is all about balance. Technology has infused itself so quickly into our daily lives that research is just beginning to catch up and people just beginning to wake up to the fact that too much of a good thing is never good. Like junk food and sodas, technology has a place in our lives (sorry, Michelle Obama!), but too much is unhealthy!
So, think about going screen-free this week, but, if you are going to ask so much of your children, then you need to go "social-screen" free as well and lead by example.
If you are interested in taking the pledge to go "screen-free", there are resources available for printing.
(Hmmm....can't go paperless during "screen-free" week......)
Have a great week!