Life Beyond the Screen

Screen-Free Week 2013

Screen-Free Week 2013

Do you remember those old bumper stickers, “Kill your television!”? It was certainly a violent way to get people to pay attention to their tv watching habits. Television programming has changed since then. Some might argue there are even better programs on – particularly public television, documentaries, science – and some would venture we are continually seeing a dumbing down of the masses. Perhaps there’s both.   

We also aren’t simply dealing with televisions anymore, but iPads, iPhones, laptops, Netflix, Wiis, and all sorts of electronic screens our children – and us, don’t even try to kid yourself – spend a lot of time in front of.

From all the statistics, this one shocks me the most: the average preschooler spends 32 hours of week behind a screen. That number rises for older children.

More Research on Screen Time and Children

  • 29% of babies under the age of 1 watch TV and videos for an average of about 90 minutes. 23% have a television in their bedroom.
  • 64% of babies and toddlers (between 1-2) watch TV and videos for an average of slightly over 2 hours. 36% have a television in their bedroom.
  •  8- to 18-year-olds consume an average of 7 hours and 11 minutes of screen media per day. For older children and adolescents, excessive screen time is linked to increased psychological difficulties that include hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, difficulties with peers and poor school performance
  • Time with screens is an important risk factor for childhood obesity in both low-risk and high- risk populations.
  • Screen time for children under 3 is linked to irregular sleep patterns and is linked to sleep disturbance in 6- to 12-year-olds.
  • Children who spend less time watching television in early years tend to do better in school, have a healthier diet, be more physically active, and be better able to engage in schoolwork in later elementary school.
  • There is no credible evidence that any type of screen time is beneficial to babies and toddlers and some evidence that it may be harmful, yet 56% of parents of young children believe that baby videos are good for child development.
  • Adolescents who watch 3 or more hours of television daily are at especially high risk for poor homework completion, negative attitudes toward school, poor grades, and long-term academic failure.

This is why I believe in participating in Screen-Free Week (which starts today). Can you imagine what these kids could be doing instead?

I can.

They will too. Once they get over the initial moaning and groaning, they find plenty to do to entertain themselves and since I plan to not use my computer when they have free time, we can do a lot together.

Activities For Screen-Free Week

Need a little inspiration to get started?

Screen-Free Week Activities

Tuesday Top Ten: activities for Screen-Free Week

Kids Games (most are best for groups)

Zero to Three: A Year of Play

101 Screen-Free Activities


Will you participate in Screen-Free Week this year?

Note: Research compiled by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.


Life Beyond the Screen — 10 Comments

  1. Excellent post.

    It’s true that there are dangers with watching television or screens. There’s too many moving images too fast and it all has an impact on the brain.

    Now we are seeing a spike in memory loss in seniors especially the baby boomers who were the first generation to really have tv’s.

  2. Wow. Those statistics! That’s a lot of TV. I struggle with screen free-as I’m sure most parents do. My kids don’t have screen time during the week. As they get older I’m noticing the firm boundaries are a bit blurry. iPads are handed out in school and much of the work is done on a screen.

    • We really have become screen-centric. I definitely don’t think it is all bad either. One week is a good break away from it for us. My biggest concern is for the families who have no screen time boundaries at all. I think participants in Screen-Free Week are already conscious of the toll, but even so seeing those numbers up there is shocking.

  3. Nghghghg! I agree with all the principles of this and would hate for my small baby boy to spend any time in front of the screen. Yet it’s so hard for me to tear myself away from phone/computer/etc. that I worry I am teaching him the wrong messages, especially as I work for myself and am trying to build up a business online at the moment. Very hard – but a very worthwhile week in principle.

  4. It is so easy to use television, video games, etc. as built in type babysitters. Thanks for the links at the bottom to the screen free activities to get started. Very helpful.

  5. Excellent post.. an eye opener! Seriously, we have to KILL the television and spend time with our kids… oh my! They grow so fast…