2014 Screen-Free Week May 5-11

What if we turned off our televisions, computers, smart phones, hand-help electronic devices and video games (except for necessary work) for seven straight days? Perhaps the following: better sleep, increased brain activity, live conversations, walks taken, gardens tended, homes repaired, books read, games played, creativity and exploration, and meaningful connections between families and friends.

Participate in Screen-Free Week, May 5-11, and see what happens for you, your family and our community. Since 1995, millions of children and families around the world have been turning off screens and turning on life, pledging to spend seven days without entertainment screen media.

While screens can be helpful in many ways, research shows that there are many costs to excessive screen time. Screen time deprives children of hands-on creative play that is the foundation of learning, creativity and constructive problem-solving. Excessive screen time (more than two hours a day) is associated with sleep disturbances, attention span issues, psychological difficulties, hyperactivity, emotional and conduct problems, poor academic achievement, reduced physical activity, higher levels of aggression, delayed language acquisition and childhood obesity.

Children who spend less time with screens in their early years tend to do better in school, have a healthier diet, are more physically active and are better able to engage in schoolwork in later elementary school.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under age 2 and less than two hours per day for children 2 and older, many American children spend more time in front of a screen than they do in school.

For more information, visit www.screenfree.org. Also, more information and suggested alternative activities will be available on the Cleveland Heights-University Heights school district's website at www.chuh.org.

Other helpful resources to guide families in making informed choices regarding their family's use of screens include Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment at www.truceteachers.org, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood at www.commercialfreechildhood.org and Common Sense Media at www.commonsensemedia.org.

This is an opportunity to explore your own ideas and creations, cherish the company of your loved ones, and appreciate the wonders this world offers in your very own reality show.

Joan Spoerl

Joan Spoerl is a community educator for Beyond Pesticides Ohio, an early childhood consultant, and a proud resident of Cleveland Heights.

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Volume 7, Issue 5, Posted 12:12 PM, 05.05.2014