Unplug…your kids and yourself!

Screen Free Week, (formally TV Turn off, April 18-24, 2011) is the annual national celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn off TV, video games, computers, and hand-held devices and turn on life.  Instead of relying on screens for entertainment, they play, read, daydream, explore nature, and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Children spend far too much time with screens: an astonishing average of 32 hours a week for preschoolers and even more for older children.  Time with screens is linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, attention issues and other health and social problems.

Some information to inform your choices of how much screen time is good for children:
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
• The average child watches 3 hours of TV a day — 2 hours of quality programming is the maximum recommended by the Academy.
• Active play time is needed to develop mental, physical and social skills.
• Children who watch violence on TV are more likely to display aggressive behavior.
• Young children don’t know the difference between programs and commercials.

A thought to ponder~
Geena Davis, an advocate for gender equality in children’s entertainment recently stated in the The WSJ “ A Blueprint for Change” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704415104576250900113069980.html “ The more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she believes she has in life. And the more hours a boy watches, the more sexist his views become.”

I hope that your mini vacation from all those gadgets, like the best of vacations, present some different and new habits. A suggestion for a new habit—add the element of TALK with your children about the TV programs or videos etc they watch.   Here are some conversation starters.

~ Did you learn anything new?
~ What character would you like to be your friend? Why?
~ Is there a character you dislike?
~ How would “the story” be different if…?
~ What would you do in this situation?
~ What are you curious about at the end of “the story?”


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