Screen Free Week: Fast, Cheap, Easy Life Enhancement!
Why not live a little this week? The Center for Screen Time Awareness is once again sponsoring the ever-timely Screen Free Week. Pointing out that “television cuts into family time, harms our children’s ability to read and succeed in school, and contributes to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity” (though otherwise, it’s not so bad?!), the Center suggests that during the last week of April, families keep screens and television OFF. They suggest that
“Turning off the television gives us a chance to think, read, create, and do.
To connect with our families and engage in our communities.
To turn off TV and turn on life.”
Do and be; don’t sit and stare
If your family usually watches a ball game, try playing a game outside. If you enjoy cooking shows, try cooking instead! If your children like to watch cartoon, introduce them to the comics, and try drawing a few. Do and be, don’t sit and stare! The key is to live, rather than watching someone else pretend to live.
Family dinners are for nurturing relationships
If the statistic stating that “forty percent of Americans frequently or always watch television during dinner” is true, and that includes families with children, think of the wasted opportunity for fellowship, shared conversations, and relationship building!
Among the recommended activities for the week is a family dinner, an activity I recommend having as often as possible. You’ll find, as your children grow older, that it becomes increasingly difficult to find evenings to gather everyone around the table. It’s always worth the effort, though, because it can be a time of bonding and sharing.
One of our table rules has always been that nothing negative, including anything disciplinary when the boys were young, ever takes place around the family table — only pleasant conversation and (reasonably) polite discussion of news and ideas. This way, the family table is a place of happy memories for each of us.
How about a game night?
In addition to turning off the television, the Center suggests that spending at least one screen free evening a week would be a good idea. It’s easy to get busy with individual screens — phone, iPad, computer, or television — but when it happens, I’ve realized that I’m missing a chance for reading something I really want to read, or even the chance for some fun family time.
The easiest way to change this habit is to make it just as easy to do something valuable as it is to pick up an electronic device. That might mean keeping a reading stack and cosy blanket by your reading chair or having board games easily accessible with all the pieces together. If you want to initiate some outdoor time after dinner, make sure that balls, bikes, skates, or whatever else you might want is nearby. Or just take a walk! As for me, I think I’ll propose a game one evening this week — perhaps a round of Pick Two, or an all-out Scattergories brawl. Though it’s hard to beat Scrabble for all-around fun!
In closing, I’ll remind you of Roald Dahl’s amusing, spot-on poem/song, “Television” (it applies to “screens” in general, not just televison). You may read the whole thing in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:
“The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk…”
(Read the rest . . . )
Listen to “Television” by Tom O’Bedlam
You might also enjoy “A Year Without the News Media.”
A few resources about screen-time and children’s brains
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