Tag: screen free week

The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood is a favorite organization of mine. They do a lot of really good work lobbying for rules and regulations about how and where children are marketed towards. They work really hard to keep our schools and school buses commercial free and they generally work hard to inform parents and children everywhere to be aware of the marketing machine that is working really hard to target children. Their work has definitely informed my own parenting and made me ultra aware of the power of the consumption machine.

Nowadays kids are marketed to at every turn. While eating breakfast and watching TV and walking through school and answering the phone. A lot of it is disguised as “information” or “entertainment” which is something I really want my own kids to be aware of. An informed and aware kid is not nearly as susceptible to the marketing tools as an unaware kid.

And I kid you not that more than once I have dissected the language in various catalogs to let them see that what they were trying to sell was a feeling. What they were actually selling were products. In one particular catalog that sells very popular and expensive dolls, one turn through all the pages and my girls were able to see that the languaging promised them, in no particular order: friends, love, happiness, security, popularity and adventure. It didn’t take much to decipher either.

And of course, the abundance of screens that are in our lives these days, in the form of TV, computers, tablets, e*readers and telephones, can be overwhelming bastions of advertising. Not to mention, creativity killers that take away our boredom, the very boredom from which many good ideas can come from.

With that in mind, The Campaign for  A Commercial Free Childhood is hosting Screen Free Week. Yes, you read it right. A whole week of Screen-free time for the whole family. Well, not counting work hours of course. But you know, that time the rest of the day that is spent spinning virtual wheels mindlessly searching, watching, wiling away the hours until bedtime.

What they’re suggesting is that we, as families, fill that time instead with, well, family time. In whatever way shape or form you can. Truth be told, in our house, the screen plays a fairly regular role. When the kids were little I controlled it more but now, with homework seguing easily into Youtube time or FB or whatever, (for me as well as them!) we are on the screens a lot. Especially if you count our collective hours – for 6 people.

Right now we have 2 school nights a week that are already screen-free and for next week we’re going to try to add a few more. It’ll take a little bit of intention on my part. And a decision to be a little more engaged in the evening that I sometimes am. Because I admit, when there is so much to do, it’s sometimes easy to have everyone plugged in and out of my hair.  So I’m going to ask that we shoot for 80% participation as a family. I’d say 100% but I feel like setting the bar a little lower will give us a little necessary wiggle room. Which this family really likes and requires.

So I’m going to buy a brand new box of big fat sidewalk chalk and then here, in no particular order, are 10  things we’re going to replace our evening screen time with next week…

  1. family games (Michigan Rummy is waiting)
  2. walk to the library
  3. craft projects (including using said chalk to make inspiring signs on plywood for all the drivers that pass on our busyy street)
  4. yard time
  5. basketball in the alley
  6. alley art project
  7. making cards
  8. writing letters
  9. getting ready for Maker Faire
  10. walks to the middle school track for family relay races
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Screen Free

As free as the wind blows, as free as the grass grows, I want to be free! At least for a few days, wouldn’t it be fun to have your whole family be free from screens?

Do you know about the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood? They do a lot of good work lobbying to get commercials and marketing and advertising out of children’s lives and out of public schools. They bring a lot to light for families and for organizations in regards to just how much advertising is thrust at our children, at our families, from birth on. Check out their website to see just how much good work they do.

This month they are also organizing the annual SCREEN FREE WEEK from April 30th-May 6th. It’s a great way for families and children to break away from the screens for a week and see just how big a part screens play in our lives. Everyone on their own screen – watching, texting, reading, exploring and zoning out on the screen be it phone, computer, tv, game station or other. It’s sort of relentless. It’s not that screen usage is bad, au contraire! But the numbers show that the average child spends 7.5 hours per day on a screen. That’s a lot of time staring at electronics. And a lot of time not engaging with the world and with each other.

In our house during school days we do a couple hours everyday screen free – from 5-7 there’s no surfing, texting, emailing, viewing. It’s not always easy. But it feels pretty good. And 2 hours feels totally doable.

Can you do it? Do you dare? Can your family be screen free? Can you turn it all off (excluding work of course which still must get done!) Can you spend that time doing something else? Here’s some ideas to get you going…

  • Go outside and lay in the grass.
  • Hug a tree
  • Play jumprope
  • Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
  • Play a game
  • Draw together
  • Go for a walk
  • Look up random words in the dictionary
  • Visit a neighbor
  • Have friends over
  • Throw a party – invite only your own family
  • Have a fancy dinner
  • Play charades
  • Listen to music
  • Build something

Take a week and slow it down. Connect with each other and with nature and with your imagination. See what you come up with. And if you’ve got some screen free ideas of your own, let me know.

 

 

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