SALT LAKE CITY – As the time that children spend with television, video games, apps and computers continues to grow, they’re being encouraged to unplug.
This is <a href=”http://www.screenfree.org” target=”parent”>Screen-Free Week</a>, the annual celebration to turn off screens in favor of activities such as reading, hands-on playing or exploring nature.
Sara Adelmann, screen time project manager with the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, says her group hopes the week leads to family connections that continue beyond.
“For instance, some families find that they have more richer conversations at dinner if there’s no devices around, so they might do that more frequently during the year,” she explains. “Or they might find that they and their children have a better night’s sleep if they don’t use devices a few hours before bed.”
Screen-Free Week began in 1996 as TV Turnoff, and since then millions of children and their families have taken part.
Adelmann says excessive screen time can be linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity and attention problems.
And, she says, it’s becoming more of an issue as tablets and smartphones become more common.
“Certainly we’re seeing an increase in the use of mobile devices,” she adds. “A recent survey came out saying that just in the past two years, the time children spend on media devices has tripled.”
It’s now estimated that school-age children spend more time with screen media than in any other activity except sleeping.