This week is Screen-Free Week, an annual effort by children's advocates to get kids free from the grip of electronic devices, even if only for a few days. Started in 1996 as "TV Turnoff," it's now hosted by the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) and promoted by hundreds of groups around the country.
The idea behind Screen-Free Week is to get kids' noses out of Nintendos, Play Stations, smart phones, tablets, and TVs and get them to read, explore nature, and spend time with friends and family.
According to Dr. Susan Linn, director of the CCFC, when her group took over hosting "TV Turnoff" week three years ago, they changed the name because TV wasn't the only "bad guy" anymore.
"It's not even that screens are necessarily 'bad guys' -- except for babies -- but it's just that there's too much of them in our lives and way too much of them in children's lives, and it's important to take a break," she declared.
Some studies show that on average, American preschoolers spend 32 hours a week enthralled by screened entertainment, the CCFC reported.
Linn said that when families are out with restless kids at restaurants and other public places, mobile screens are too often shoved in the children's faces by their parents, to try to keep them quiet.
"They could bring books, or they could bring crayons, little things that will occupy them if it's really too hard for them to sit for long periods of time" she suggested.
Adults are also encouraged to take the pledge to swear off TV or DVDs for a week, and only use the computer if it's required for work.
To take the pledge, and to get more information and materials, more information can be found here. Yes, you'll have to use a screen one more time, but you and your children may be better off for it.
Story by Lori Abbott, PNS