Let’s talk about Screen Free Week for a minute. How much do you actually spend looking down at your screen? Have a question these days? You can quickly Google it, no problem. Wonder what your High School best friend is up to? You can find out in 10 seconds by pulling up Facebook on your phone. Need to pay your bills? You can use your phone. Restless kids? Sometimes the easiest thing to do is give them a tablet to watch youTube.
I recently received a notification that I was using my iPhone for an average of five hours per day myself. This was an eye-opener for me as to how much time I spend looking at a screen! I got to thinking, this is probably why there is a National Screen Free Week to help people reflect on how much they are relying on their electronics and to be more intentional about putting them down.
Why should we be more screen free?
Recognizing the health risks associated with too much screen time, the American Public Health Association is an endorsing organization for the National Screen Free Week. This is typically the first week in May and is a time for families, schools and communities to commit to going screen free for a week. It allows for more time to connect, experience independent play, get outside and enjoy new activities. However, if you missed National Screen Free Week, no worries! You can implement a screen free week any time of the year and it is a great way to reset some healthy boundaries for our phones, tablets and TVs. For more information and resources on National Screen Free Week click here.
If you are wondering where to begin you will find tips for a successful screen free week below:
Make sure that everyone in your home, or organization is aware and is committed to spending the week away from their phones, tablets and TVs. It is especially important that both adults and kids alike at least understand that the expectation is “no screens allowed” or during what times this rule will be in place.
Some possible ways to get everyone on board for screen free week:
- Make it fun! Maybe a friendly competition to see who can last the longest or complain the least.
- Have each member of the family sign a commitment contract.
- Use parental controls for all phones.
- Plan activities for this newly found free time.
Once you all put down the phones, you will find that there is likely a lot of free time to fill! Go ahead and plan some activities to fill this space. No need to be rigid but have some plans as a fall back if natural play or conversation does not immediately just “happen”!
Some possible activities for your screen free week:
- Have a jar filled with possible family activities to draw at random times. Have each family member contribute their favorite activity.
- Make or buy a list of conversation starters or random questions to foster communication.
- Try a new hobby or sport as a family.
- Go to a class at your community center: painting, pottery, cooking, etc.
- Explore a local park.
- Organize you closets. Donate to your local charity.
- Volunteer at a local shelter or organization.
- Play outside!
- Dust off old board games.
- The possibilities are endless…
Create some healthy boundaries.
During your screen free week, discuss some boundaries for screen time moving forward. Do you enjoy having dinner as a family? Did you family really enjoy game night or a new hobby? Go ahead and use this as a reset to have some lasting boundaries and new habits moving past your screen free week.
Some possible healthy boundaries beyond your screen free week include:
- Have a designated basket to put phones in for screen free time.
- Decide when your family will have screen free time.
- Create areas in the home that are “unplugged”. Example: the dining room table, the car, etc.
- Encourage connection by planning family activities that are screen free.
- Initiate free play by having outdoor time each day.
- Set limits and consequences for screen time.
Planning a screen free week can really help your family reset some of the bad habits that lead to an over use of screens. This reset can help to create healthy habits when using screens moving forward. So, just because there is a National Screen Free week, does not mean you have to wait for that week to make a lasting change for your family. Pick a date and go for it!
What’s your favorite way to unplug and recharge?