Screen Free Week: Take the Seven Day Challenge

Children are spending more time on iPads, smartphones, computers and video games (all commonly referred to “screen time”) at an earlier age: 64% of children ages 12 to 24 months watch TV and videos for an average of just over two hours a day.

How much TV should a child watch exactly? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend ZERO screen time for children under 2 years. For children older than 2, they should receive no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day.

The great news is you don’t have to take a stand alone! Families, early learning centers and organizations across the nation pledged to turn off all devices for seven (7) days during the official Screen Free Week from May 5 to 11. This is something that can go on year round! Keep reading below for your local guide to a screen free week.

Guide to a Screen-Free Week

MONDAY: Start off Screen Free Week with a good old-fashioned family dinner. Invite grandparents over and encourage family discussion. After dinner, go through family pictures or create a family scrapbook. Meal time provides the opportunity to model healthy behaviors and help children to develop critical language skills.

TUESDAY: Teach your child a favorite childhood activity. Whatever happened to games like Hide and Seek, Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Freeze Tag, Hopscotch or Double Dutch? All of these games are simple and require little to no equipment. When children are moving, and their hearts are pumping and bringing oxygen to the brain, they are learning.

WEDNESDAY: Encourage kids to engage in pretend play. Not only does this nurture creativity but it also instills in children the idea that anything is possible. During pretend play, children are engaging language skills and learning to problem solve and think critically. Common items like blankets, dolls, socks and boxes make great props.

THURSDAY: Visit a local library. The West Dade Regional Library in Miami-Dade County offers free storytelling and craft programs. The library houses more than 200,000 books, an indoor garden, an outdoor playground, an art gallery and more. The best part is it’s all free. Call the library at 305-553-1134 for more information.

FRIDAY: Children love music. Get silly, sing songs together, get up and dance. Create a dance routine or start a new band. Music helps develop gross motor skills, allows self-expression, develops coordination and brings awareness of body movements. Encourage different body movements or the use of musical instruments.

SATURDAY:

Every second Saturday, the Perez Art Museum in downtown Miami opens its doors to families to enjoy its exhibits and permanent collection free of charge. Explore the museum or take part in their family friendly art activities. For more information, call 305-375-4073.

SUNDAY: End the week with a bike ride at Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park Beach. Kids can visit the park’s Fun Center which features a playground, carousel, splash fountain and skating rink. The park is free, but there is a charge for parking and a toll to get to Key Biscayne ($1.75 per car). For more information, call 305-361-7385.

Get involved and say ‘No!’ to screen time. Remember that your job does not stop here! Screen time takes away from positive interactions with other children and adults, reading, talking and other developmental activities. As a parent you play an important role in helping your child develop a positive attitude toward physical activity at an early age.

Not only is it important to use the free time to explore your child’s interests, discover new talents, extend their learning, but it’s also important to support their independence, self-esteem and get moving with them. Let them see you enjoying physical activity and have fun together. Take the pledge and find out what else life has to offer!

At the end of the week, discuss with your child the benefits of screen-free week and ways to create a family TV limiting rule, such as having a TV free day or no TV during mealtimes.

For more information on Screen-Free Week and screen-time alternatives, visit www.commercialfreechildhood.org or www.screenfree.org.

Resources:

The Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, in partnership with the Nemours Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the South Florida implementer of ‘Taking Steps to Healthy Success,’ a national anti-obesity and wellness initiative targeted toward early learning programs.

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