From April 30 to May 6, North Americans will be experiencing life beyond their screens.
Screen-free week initially started as TV-Turnoff week in 1994 by the creators of the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood. The founders of the program saw the benefit of a digital detox to reassess the role that screen media plays in children’s lives.
Today, the average teenager (and their parent) spends 9 hours a day in front of a screen. Tweens spend 6 hours a day and preschoolers spend as much as 4.5 hours every day looking at a screen.
So how is all this time spent engaged with digital technology effecting us? Screen time for young children is linked to speech delays and the inability to regulate emotions. An Alberta study examining how digital technology is impacting children found that students are more distracted, have a difficult time focusing and are coming to school tired. A recent study involving participants aged 19-32 showed that social media use was significantly associated with depression and multiple studies have demonstrated a link between problematic smartphone use and anxiety.
The more we engage with screens, the harder it is to disengage with them. Without giving ourselves a break and unplugging, we are essentially just strengthening the need to be constantly plugged in.
If you have never given yourself the gift of a digital detox, let Screen-free week be the catalyst. Reduce screen time and allow yourself and your kids to be “bored”. It will spark your imagination, ignite creative ideas, promote deep thinking and strengthen your connections with each other.
Before you start, take inventory of your family’s screen time and a mindful approach to how it may be affecting you. If you feel like a week without screens is just not possible, break it down into manageable pieces. Try eliminating screens from 4-8pm every day or going the week without social media. Whatever digital detox means to you, let this be a spark to live beyond the screen and fully engage in life!