Over the last year, more children are participating in remote learning and spending more time at home than usual. This has led to a drastic increase in screen time.
That’s why leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (May 3-9, 2021), the annual week-long event where children, families, schools, and communities pledge to replace screen-based entertainment with offline activities and downtime.
Did you know?
- The 2019 Common Sense Study of media use among kids revealed that the average tween (8 to 12 years old) spent nearly five hours per day on their screens for entertainment, and teens used their screens for more than seven hours per day. Experts believe these numbers are even higher post-pandemic.
- Another 2019 study revealed that 79% of 2-year-olds and 97% of 3-year-olds exceed the recommended guideline of one hour or less per day.
- 47% of babies under 1 watch TV and videos for an average of almost 2 hours a day, even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 18 months except for video chatting.
- Screen time is habituating and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, eye strain, and attention problems.
For most families, screen time is simply a fact of life and there's no way to eliminate it completely. If an entire week of no screen time feels impossible, pledge to try one day a week for a month. Screen-Free Sunday might become your favorite day of the week!
Taking a break from our phones, tablets, computers, and televisions gives us the opportunity to be really present for the moment so we can reconnect with the people and world around us.
Need ideas? Here are 15 things your family can do besides turning on a screen.
- Start a garden. Don’t have a green thumb? Start small by growing fresh herbs in pots. If you’re feeling extra green, visit your local garden center to buy a raised garden bed, soil, and food you want to grow.
- Explore your hometown. We have so many hidden gems in our area. Go out and explore the city like a tourist would. Check the local tourism brochures for some of the hot spots you've been missing and dine out at local restaurants that you have never tried.
- Backyard (or living room) campout. The weather is getting warmer and it’s time to take advantage of it. Get the family together to grill a delicious dinner and cap off the night with roasting smores and sleeping under the stars in the tent.
- Take day trips. Go to Denver to visit the Capitol Building and museums. Head south to Colorado Springs for a trip to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or Garden of the Gods. Hit I-70 for a scenic drive to the mountains.
- Purge toys, clothes, and other items. Screen-Free Week is the perfect time to go through items in your house that you no longer use or wear, or have been collecting dust. Get your kids involved by asking them to donate toys that they no longer play with to kids in need. Have some clothes that don’t fit anymore? Get them out of your closet and use it as an excuse to go shopping!
- Try a science experiment. Kids love Dancing Popcorn Kernels, and even the youngest of scientists can perform this Celery Science Experiment.
- Old-school board games like Monopoly, Sorry!, or Clue are fun for families with school-age children, and preschoolers never grow weary of games like Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. Or try a card game like Uno or Go Fish.
- Go skating! Don your skates and helmets and head to the local skate park. If you don't have your own skates, head to a local rink.
- Try some games that heighten the senses, like the ones in this article, 5 Senses of Fun!
- Dive in! The recreation centers in Douglas County have great indoor pools. Just remember... you may need to make reservations.
- Bake something. Many kids love helping in the kitchen and when you're done, you can share a sweet treat. Take the leftovers to the local fire or police station.
- Visit your local library. The Douglas County Libraries are ranked tops in the nation for a reason! They've got plenty of family-friendly activities for you to enjoy, and the knowledgeable librarians can recommend some great books to enjoy together. (You can also find books on kid-friendly science experiments and baking if you're so inclined!)
- Head to the local park, or try one you've never been to before. Now that the weather is getting warmer and it's staying light a bit longer, it's the perfect time to play outside!
- Start training for one of the many 5K events being held in Douglas County this summer.
- Need more ideas? The Macaroni Kid Calendar is sure to help!