Screen-Free Week is April 18-24, 2011! Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to turn off screens and turn on life.

Date of Release: 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011
Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh@commercialfreechildhood.org)
For Immediate Release

Screen-Free Week is April 18-24, 2011!
Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to turn off screens and turn on life.

BOSTON -- March 24 -- Did you know?

  • School-age children spend nearly twice as many hours with screen media such as television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices as they do in school.
  • Television use is at an all-time high among preschoolers—according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 24 hours a week watching TV.
  • Screen time is habituating and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits and attention problems.
  • Forty percent of 3-month-old infants are regular viewers of television and DVDs—even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two.

Children are spending way too much time with screens—and it's not good for them. That’s why more than 60 leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (April 18-24, 2011), the annual celebration where children, families, schools and communities turn off screens and turn on life.

“The wide-ranging support for Screen-Free Week reflects the growing national consensus that kids spend too much time with television, video games, and computers,” said Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, the official home of Screen-Free Week.

Endorsers for Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff) include the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Public Health Association, the National Head Start Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, and the Parent Teacher Associations of Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, and Missouri.

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week.  Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities.  This year, Screen-Free celebrations are being planned around the country, including:

  • Long Island, NY, where the Early Years Institute is working with local merchants and community organizations to provide wonderful screen-free activities for children and families for free or at discounted prices.
  • Santa Rosa, CA, where the Hidden Valley Elementary School Student Government has challenged its students to see which class can come up with the greatest number of screen-free activities.
  • Lexington, KY, where the Church of St. Michael the Archangel is incorporating Screen-Free Week into its observation of Holy Week.
  • Twin Falls, ID, where the College of Southern Idaho will make Screen-Free Week part of its Green Week/Earth Day celebration.
  • Annville, PA, where St. Paul’s Church will kick off the week with a “Give TV the Boot” hike and scavenger hunt.

“Children spend so much of their leisure time with screens, threatening their health and well-being and undermining their relationships with friends and family,” said Dr. Linn.  “Screen-Free Week is a great opportunity to break the screen habit and begin embracing a happier, healthier lifestyle.”  


Here’s what other experts and advocates are saying
about Screen-Free Week!

"We recommend families participate in Screen-Free Week by turning off their TVs, computers and other screens for entertainment April 18–24, 2011. In addition to the health benefits, many people find that choosing to cut back their screen time offers an opportunity to replace it with family activities such as taking walks, playing games and spending time outside, and this can be rewarding and satisfying."

Joyce O’Meara
Minnesota Physical Activity and Nutrition Program
Minnesota Department of Health


"Our religious, philosophical, and social principles converge when thinking about family and community.  This year in the wake of a transformative season of fasting and contemplation, Screen-Free Week coincides with Holy Week and Passover.  We encourage wide promotion and participation in this timely and beneficial activity so that we may return to the basics of relating to one another with human sensitivity.  We and our interfaith partners will be planning our own media fast during this time.”

Andrea Cano, Chair
United Church of Christ, Office of Communication, Inc.


"Since external entertainment sources like television demand that our brains perform only in certain ways, we need to create downtime away from screens. Only when children have the potential of being bored will their brains jump in and begin to invent and create.  So do yourself and your children a favor and turn off the screens this week, if only to see what happens when the prepackaged entertainment stops and your brains can wander wherever they may."

Michael Rich, MD, MPH, Director
Center on Media and Child Health (CMCH)

 

“Going screen-free is such a great public health recommendation!  Get up – get active!  Look up – talk with a real live person!  Let go – give your keypad hands a rest!  Go look in the fridge for some fresh fruits and veggies – and skip the fast foods you see in the ads!  More physical activity, better nutrition, less repetitive motion injury and improved relationships and stress reduction…all by going screen-free!  What a great idea!” 

Lois Hall
Ohio Public Health Association

 

“With a childhood obesity rate of 11% (2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey), Nevada has certainly not escaped the obesity epidemic impacting the US.  To help reverse this alarming trend, NPHA strongly supports evidence-based strategies such as Screen-Free Week to increase the amount of time that our youth spend being physically active each day.  An estimated 1,600 Nevada students participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff) activities coordinated by the Southern Nevada Health District in 2010.  An analysis of preliminary data indicated that prior to 2010 Turnoff activities, participating students watched an average of 3.17 hours of television a day.  After the Turnoff activities students reported watching an average of 1.05 hours of television daily—a reduction of 2.12 hours!”

Deborah Williams, Executive Board Member/Vice President of Southern Chapter
Nevada Public Health Association

 

“Massachusetts PTA endorses and supports Screen-Free Week to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life of families and children.  Screen-Free Week enhances PTA’s advocacy on behalf of children that includes encouraging opportunities for recreation and physical activity, protecting children from the exploitative marketing of unhealthy foods and behaviors, and promoting activities that enhance family interaction and community involvement.”

Mary Ann Stewart, President
Massachusetts PTA

 

“Our goal at SPARK is to promote healthy, active lifestyles, and one way to accomplish this is to reduce screen time among children and adolescents. That’s why we’re excited to support this year’s Screen-Free Week and make progress towards raising a healthier generation of youth.”

Billy Beltz, Marketing Director
SPARK Physical Education and Wellness Programs

 

“Though there are many causes, one must consider screen time as a culprit in just how far children in the United States have fallen behind their international counterparts; our world rankings have dropped to never-before seen levels.  America’s 15-year-olds are 17th in the world in reading, 23rd in science and 31st in math, according to the Programme for International Student Assessment.  Given these facts, and knowing that 90 percent of brain development happens during a child’s first five years, shouldn't we make an effort to stimulate our youngest minds through reading, socialization, play, and good old-fashioned verbal communication?”

Jeffrey S. Morosoff, Vice President, Communications
The Early Years Institute

 

"Knowing how to take a break from screen entertainment is important for our youngest generation. Remembering that we can survive without YouTube, Facebook and Dancing with the Stars is important for all of us. My sons are already screen-free during the school week, so they think Screen-Free Week will be harder for me and their dad than it will be for them. You know what...they're right!"

Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin, Director
Empowered by Play

 

“Screen-Free Week is a simple strategy for making the healthy choice the easy choice.  If the TV, computer, and video games are turned off, of course it will make the decision to go outside and play the easier one!” 

Amanda J. Stamper, CHES, RHEd, Health Promotion Coordinator
Wilkes County Health Department

 

This press release and these quotes, along with images and other publicity materials, can be found at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/screenfreeweek/press.html.

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