Screens have taken over our lives. Don’t believe me? Take a second to count the number of screens in your home. That includes your TVs, computers, smart phones, iPods and tablets. Add the screens you see at work, the ones in stores, at restaurants and everywhere else you go. We practically live in screens, dream of screens. They’ve become a glowing, electronic filter through which we live our daily lives.
It’s all a little much.
As addicted to screens as we are, it’s no wonder our kids are spending more and more time parked in front of them. It’s easy to babysit kids with TV or computers, but is it the best way for them to spend their time?
Here at Kazoodles, we’re issuing our annual Screen-Free Week challenge to help pry your eyeballs from the screens that surround us. If your kids can go a whole week away from that alluring glow, they’ll get $5 to spend on toys, books and games at Kazoodles! More importantly, they’ll see that there’s a whole world beyond all those screens.
It’s been more than 50 years since TV was famously called “a vast wasteland.” Today the TV is practically a secondary screen in many homes. With the advent of computers, smart phones and tablets, it’s hard to separate our eyeballs from a screen for a minute, let alone an entire week.
According to a 2011 study by Common Sense Media, a San Francisco non-profit organization, kids under 8 spend more than two hours a day in front of a TV, computer, iPod or tablet screen. Nearly half of kids ages 5 to 8 have a TV in their bedrooms, the organization found.
That same year, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents of infants and toddlers against excessive screen time. Watching video on a screen has no educational benefits for children under 2, they said, and while the health risks aren’t as adverse as they once believed, screens can still be harmful to development.
The issue is not that screens rot away our brains, as has been so famously quipped. The issue is that they prohibit kids from engaging in healthier and more beneficial activities. Face-to-face interaction with parents and other kids will always trump one-way interaction with screens.
According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive screen time has been linked to problems with obesity, behavior, sleep, and poor academic performance. That doesn’t mean that iPad time will lead to jail time, but turning it off every now and then certainly doesn’t hurt.
Do you think your family can go without screens for a week? Step up to the plate and take the Screen-Free Week challenge! Using computers for school work (or adult work) is fine, but screens should otherwise be off.
Think of some other, more constructive ways for you and your kids to spend your time. Try learning new games or craft projects. Start learning to play an instrument (without YouTube instructional videos of course) or digging into a few good books. Take a day trip to the coast or to a museum. Pull yourself away from the addictive shackles of the screen and explore the world around you!
Most importantly, explore it together. It’s been said before, but kids grow up fast. They can spend their time staring at a screen, or they can spend it with their family and friends, and with the real world around them.
Download the Screen-Free Week form here, fill it out, and return it to Kazoodles after May 5 for $5 off your purchase!