Screen-Free Week is April 30 – May 6, 2018!

Date of Release: 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Contact: 

Jean Rogers (617-896-9377); jean@commercialfreechildhood.org

Screen-Free Week is April 30 – May 6, 2018! 
Kids, families, schools, and communities take a break from digital entertainment and enjoy life beyond the screen

Boston — April 25, 2018 — Screen-Free Week is almost here! The international celebration, hosted by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, takes place April 30 – May 6, 2018. Schools, libraries, families, and communities around the world will organize events designed to help children turn off screens in order to connect with family, friends, nature, and their own creativity.

“Screen-Free Week is a great way to take a much-needed break from entertainment screen media and rediscover the joys of face-to-face communication and offline play,” said CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin. “Every year we hear from participants that not only did they have a blast, but the week led to lasting changes and healthier media habits.”

Reflecting the growing consensus that excessive screen time is displacing essential childhood activities, Screen-Free Week 2018 is endorsed by 102 public health, nature, and child advocacy organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Children & Nature Network, American Public Health Association, Sierra Club, Reach Out & Read, National WIC Association, National Black Child Development Institute, American Horticultural Society, and The Alliance for Early Childhood.

  • Research shows that children’s screen time exceeds public health recommendations, and that excessive use of digital devices can lead to health and wellness problems:
  • School-age children spend more time with screen media – television, video games, computers, tablets and phones – than in any other activity but sleeping.
  • Teenagers consume an average of nearly 9 hours of entertainment media daily, with tweens averaging nearly 6 hours – and these numbers exclude additional media use for school and homework.
  • Children aged eight and younger average 2 1/4 hours of entertainment screens daily, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 18 months avoid screen media (except video-chatting) and that children aged 2-5 limit their screen exposure to 1 hour daily.
  • Excessive screen time is linked to a host of problems facing children today, including poor school performance, childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, depression, and attention problems.

"Screen-Free Week provides families with an important break from digital distractions. It challenges parents to be more thoughtful about the digital media choices that they make for their families,” said Colleen A. Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “The AAP encourages families to think proactively about their children’s screen time and talk with children about it. The real danger of too much media use is that it takes away time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep. Parents need to help teach their children how to use media as a tool to create, connect, and learn. The AAP’s new Family Media Plan tool can help.”

For this year’s celebration, CCFC has partnered with Every Child a Reader, the hosts of Children’s Book Week, also taking place April 30 – May 6. Children’s Book Week hosts free public events in libraries and bookstores, and CCFC and ECAR have created resources for hosting both weeks together, including joint pledge cards in English and Spanish and a list of children’s books about unplugging from digital devices.

Since 1996, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scout leaders, naturalists, and clergy have organized Screen-Free Week celebrations in their communities. Here are just a few of this year's festivities:

  • The Des Plaines Park District in Illinois will celebrate Screen-Free Week with a board game swap, an ice cream social, nature night, bicycle rodeo and ride, family golf night, and a campfire.
  • In Granville, OH, community organizations are collaborating to host fun and free events for the entire family, including comic book day, a sports equipment swap, free admission to a school play, family game night, local history night, hikes, canoeing, and a kick-off festival at a local park.
  • Students at Huckleberry Hill Elementary School in Lynnfield, MA, will celebrate Screen-Free Week with a variety of activities, including dinner at a local restaurant, Mad Science night, game night, an author reading, and a dance party.
  • Hundreds of bookstores and libraries will hold events to celebrate Screen-Free Week and Children’s Book Week together. For example, Village Books in Bellingham, WA will be hosting free events for children, including story time, a crafts activity, and a week-long scavenger hunt. 

Here’s what other Screen-Free Week endorsers are saying about this year’s celebration:

“The unprecedented explosion of screen-based media has fundamentally disrupted the experience of childhood, with unlimited content available at any time via TV, computers, and portable devices. From self-regulation skills, to language, attention, imagination, and mental health, mounting evidence suggests that the analog human brain may not be ideally suited for digital development, especially during the dynamic span of brain growth prior to age 5. Among the most potent drivers of ill-effects of excessive screen-based media is its tendency to interfere with and impair human engagement, particularly between grownups and children. By contrast, reading with a child is an ideal, time-tested means to promote such engagement, and the brain benefits that come with it. During Screen-Free Week, I encourage you to unplug from technology, plug in with your child, and share stories together. Your child will thank you – and you’ll thank them back!”

- Dr. John S. Hutton, MS MD | Reach Out & Read

“The National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) proudly supports Screen-Free Week as part of our strong commitment to promoting positive nutrition and fitness practices in Black communities. NBCDI’s long-standing efforts to actively promote children’s health and wellness serves as a vital component to our organization’s greater mission of improving and advancing the quality of life for Black children and families. In keeping with our efforts to increase health and wellness among Black children and families, NBCDI encourages children, families, schools, and communities to spend Screen-Free Week rediscovering the joys of life beyond the screen through discovery, exploration, and play.”

- Tobeka G. Green, President and CEO | National Black Child Development Institute

"Outdoor Alliance for Kids (OAK) envisions a world where all children and youth have the opportunity and encouragement to play outside and connect with nature. We are proud to endorse Screen-Free Week, which gives kids a nice reminder to unplug and get outdoors."

- Brenna Muller, Program Manager | Outdoors Alliance for Kids

"Our kids’ lives are out of balance. While there is a time and place for electronics, today's youth spend more time plugged in each week than I spend at the office. Sierra Club is happy to support a week that encourages kids to get off the couch and plug into nature."

- Jackie Ostfeld, Director | Sierra Club Outdoors

“The Alliance for Early Childhood began its TV Tune out Week in 1995. Since then, our ScreenBreak and CCFC’s Screen-Free Week have evolved to reflect the screen options and usage in children’s entertainment.  Both organizations continue to focus on the importance of a yearly opportunity for families to evaluate the impact of screens on their lives and to explore other options. The Alliance for Early Childhood salutes the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and looks forward to many more years of providing screen-free weeks for families around the country.”

- Liza Sullivan, Executive Director | Alliance for Early Childhood

“Screen-Free Week is a wonderful opportunity for individuals and families to kick-start new habits! So many of us complain about never having enough time, yet according to the latest Nielsen data, the average American adult spends nearly 11 hours each day consuming media – a half hour increase from one year ago! Let’s take back that time, and devote it to more of what matters in our lives. Let’s spend less time in front of our TVs and gadgets, and more time outside and enjoying nature. Less time on social media, and more time personally connecting with each other and our communities. Less time complaining about the state of our world, and more time working on solutions to the problems.”

- Shara Drew, Director of Kids & Commercialism Program | New Dream

Experts on children and media will be available for interviews prior to and during Screen-Free Week. Additional endorser quotes, as well as images for promotional use, can be found at http://www.screenfree.org/endorsers/ and http://www.screenfree.org/sfw-logos/.

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