Screen-Free Week is May 1 – 7, 2017!

Date of Release: 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

For Immediate Release

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

Screen-Free Week is May 1 – 7, 2017! 
Kids, families, schools, and communities take a break from digital entertainment and enjoy life beyond the screen

Boston — April 25, 2017 — Screen-Free Week is almost here! The international celebration, organized by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, takes place May 1 – 7, 2017. Schools, libraries, families, and communities around the world will host events designed to help children turn off screens in order to connect with nature, family, and their own creativity. 

“It’s time to move beyond questions of whether screen media is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and acknowledge a simple truth: far too many children – and adults – are spending far too much time with screens,” said CCFC’s Executive Director Josh Golin. “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 interaction and offline play.”

Reflecting the growing consensus that excessive screen time is displacing essential childhood activities, Screen-Free Week 2017 is endorsed by 47 public health and child advocacy organizations, including the American Public Health Association, Reach Out & Read, the National WIC Association, The National Black Child Development Institute, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

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. 
  • The amount of time children ages 0-8 spend using mobile devices tripled from 2011 to 2013, and has been increasing since.
  • 64% of infants and toddlers watch TV and videos or use apps for an average of just over two hours a day, even though the AAP recommends no screen time for children under 18 months.
  • Excessive screen time is linked to a host of problems facing children today, including poor school performance, childhood obesity, sleep disturbance, and attention problems.

“Today’s children grow up immersed in digital media, which means they often are connecting with a screen instead of peers, teachers, or their parents,” said Fernando Stein, MD, President of the AAP. “All this digital media can have both positive and negative effects on healthy development, but Screen-Free Week provides families with an important break from all these digital distractions.”

“The AAP encourages families to think proactively about their children’s screen time and talk with children about it, because the real danger of too much media use is that it will leave children with not enough time during the day to play, study, talk, or sleep,” Dr. Stein added. “What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them 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 organizers of Children’s Book Week, also taking place May 1 – 7. 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, and clergy have organized Screen-Free Week celebrations in their communities. Here are just a few of this year's festivities

  • Emerson-Williams Elementary in Wethersfield, Connecticut, will be celebrating Screen-Free Week this year by hosting a yoga night, a dinner and music night on the lawn, and a bowling night, as well as a nature hike and scavenger hunt at a local park.
  • Healthy Charlotte in North Carolina has fun activities scheduled every day including Taco Tuesday, Family Game Night, and an Observatory Viewing Session. 
  • Let’s Move! Missoula: Unplug and Play! begins its Screen-Free Week with a kick-off event featuring 30+ free activities for all ages and abilities. This year’s kick-off is Walk like an Animal, a jaunt around Missoula’s first official Rx Trail! Families are encouraged to play together inside and outside with free daily activities.
  • Hundreds of bookstores and libraries will hold events to celebrate Screen-Free Week and Children’s Book Week together. For example, Middletown Public Library in New Jersey has a entire week’s worth of activities including a Family Solar Observation Session, Pajama Story Time, and an Engineering BLOCK Party to celebrate.

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

“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

“Thank you, Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood for Screen-Free Week. It’s a time to step back and reflect on the role media and technology play in family life—and what children gain and lose by using it. It’s also a time to make decisions about how families want to change their media use after Screen-Free Week is over. TRUCE has been concerned about the role of digital entertainment in childhood for over 20 years. We urge parents to take advantage of this special opportunity to promote the well-being of their children and families.”
- Diane Levin, Co-Founder, TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Childhood Entertainment)

“Families First always reminds parents that they are their children’s first and best teachers. Setting reasonable screen limits is one practice we encourage, so we applaud Screen-Free Week as a valuable opportunity to engage in family time together.”
- Dr. Maureen O’Brien, Director of Curriculum and and Evaluation, Families First Parenting Programs

“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

“It is never too late to get more facts about the ever-changing world of childhood screens and reset bad habits. Even a teenager can find tremendous benefits to reducing screen time, but they need the help of loving parents to draw the limits, initiate a new hobby and show them by example that family attachment is more important than screen attachment. So instead of getting upset or just caving in to all the craziness, let’s do something positive. Families Managing Media recommends taking a week off to reset by participating in national Screen-Free Week, May 1-7."
- Melanie Hempe, RN, Founder/President, Families Managing Media

“Steiner Waldorf Kindergartens are screen and technology free and families are encouraged to support this philosophy at home. Child-initiated free play enables and integrates development in all areas and inspires imagination and creativity. Our future depends on these basic, but vital skills. Screen-Free Week reminds parents of the possibilities!”
- Janni Nicole, Early Childhood/Executive Officer, Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship, Stourbridge, UK

"This year we are hearing parents, teachers, even teenagers complain of a growing concern about our screen-focused lives. We’re spending more time staring at our screens and less time in the wonders of nature, in conversation with friends, reading, or engaged with others in community activity. It’s time to make a change. It’s not that we should chuck our screens entirely, but that we need a healthier balance. Screen-Free Week is a great way to restore balance.”
- Edna Rienzi, New Dream (formerly Center for a New American 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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