SAN LUIS VALLEY — Screen-Free Week is almost here. The international celebration, hosted by the nonprofit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) , takes place April 29 to May 5. Now is the time to plan how your family can participate.
For most kids and adults, time spent with screens can overwhelm all other leisure activities. Screen-Free Week is an opportunity for kids and their families to unplug during leisure time and focus on creating, discovering, building, participating, and doing. It’s also a great way to help teach kids how to have a healthy balance between screen and scree-free activities.
Participating in Screen-Free Week doesn’t mean giving up all computer and screen use for the week. Organizers recognize that most of us depend on screens for work, school, and other tasks. Families who want to participate should plan ahead of time what level or type of screen use would be acceptable for them. The main idea is to refrain from using televisions, tablets, computers, and phones for leisure and entertainment.
The organizers of this event have some great tips for making the most of the week. The first is to try to get everyone in the family on board. If kids see that adults are fully committed to the spirit of the week, they’ll feel that everyone is sharing the experience and will take it more seriously.
After committing to participate, families should make some plans together on activities they can do during their leisure time that don’t involve screens. It’s important to schedule some family activities in the early part of the week so that everyone can adjust to being screen-free. Ideas might include hosting a family board game night, walking in the local park, building a fort, reading a book, or throwing a Frisbee outside. Screen-Free Week is a great time for parents to share their hobbies or interests with their kids, or encourage their kids to explore screen-free hobbies. There is a great list of 101 screen-free activities to use as inspiration on www.screenfree.org.
Another suggestion from organizers is to reclaim the family meal as a time for talking together and sharing stories. Families can plan their meals for the week ahead of time and try to include the whole family in the preparation and presentation of the meal. Kids can help in the kitchen, or help set the table. During the meal, families can talk about their day, share old stories, and talk about recent experiences, such as a book they liked or event they participated in.
At the end of the week, it’s important to reflect as a family on the experience. Talk about how everyone feels, what he or she has accomplished and what aspects of the week he or she’d like to keep going. Maybe you’ll decide as a family to have one screen-free night a week, or to make one of the activities you did during the week a new family tradition. You might be surprised by how empowering and renewing a screen-free week can be.
Amy Henschen is the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Colorado State University Extension. To find out more about Extension and the 4-H program visit http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.