Screen-Free Week is April 30 – May 6, 2012! Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to turn off screens and turn on life.

Date of Release: 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April 17, 2012
Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh@commercialfreechildhood.org)
For Immediate Release

Screen-Free Week is April 30 – May 6, 2012!
Kids, families, schools, and communities pledge to turn off screens and turn on life.

Did you know?

  • School-age children spend nearly twice as many hours with screen media—television, video games, computers, and hand-held devices—as they do in school?
  • Screen media use is at an all-time high among preschoolers—according to Nielsen, young children spend, on average, more than 32 hours a week watching television, playing video games, and using computers.
  • Screen time is habituating and linked to poor school performance, childhood obesity, poor sleep habits, and attention problems.
  • 47% of babies one year old and younger 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 two.

Children are spending way too much time with screens—and it’s not good for them. That’s why so many leading health, education, and childcare organizations actively support this year’s Screen-Free Week (April 30 – May 6, 2012), the annual celebration where children, families, schools, and communities turn off screens and turn on life. Endorsers include the National Head Start Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the National Black Child Development Institute, and the American Clinical Board of Nutrition.

“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. “More screen time means less time for hands-on play, reading, playing outside, and exploring nature—activities crucial to a healthy, happy childhood."

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities. Here are just a few of the festivities being planned:

  • In Long Island, NY, 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.
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and Live Healthy Iowa have partnered with five Iowa YMCAs to reduce screen-time. Participating Ys agree to eliminate TV viewing during Screen-Free Week and revise their year-round television viewing policies for before and after school.
  • In Montana, Unplug and Play Missoula is partnering with Missoula Parks and Recreation and the County Health Department to offer a variety of fun and active events throughout the week.
  • In Anchorage, Alaska, Over the Rainbow Toys will host daily “Crafternoons.”
  • Screen-Free Kansas City has arranged for free classes, workshops, and performances at a variety of locations throughout the week.

“When children spend most of their leisure time with screens, their health, well-being, and relationships with friends and family are threatened,” said Dr. Linn. “Screen-Free Week is a perfect opportunity to break the screen habit and have fun embracing a happier, healthier lifestyle.”

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

"Children today have less time for outdoor play than any previous generation, in part because they spend an average of seven and a half hours each day in front of a television, computer screen, or playing video games. Screen-Free Week is a great reminder that good old-fashioned play is not only fun, but important for our children’s overall health and well-being. See what happens when the prepackaged entertainment stops and your brains can wander wherever they may."
Darell Hammond, Founder and CEO
KaBOOM!”

“Going screen-free is such a great public health recommendation! Get up and 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

“Research has found that over 20% of 4-year-olds are obese, with the highest numbers among Black and Latino children. Among Black teenage girls ages 12 to 19, more than 40% are overweight or at risk of being overweight. Screen-Free Week encourages us to participate in activities that will help reverse these types of staggering statistics and keep our kids healthy. Playing outside, preparing nutritious foods, and making arts and crafts are just a few fun things that you can do with your children in honor of Screen-Free Week. Take this time to turn off the TV, step away from the video games, and engage in activities that will keep your children active and continuously learning!”
Angele Doyne
National Black Child Development Institute

“My children tell me that some of their best memories from their childhood came from sitting around the dinner table as a family, sharing the day’s events, and telling stories. Those memories never would have happened if we’d all been engaged with a TV screen instead of each other. When it comes to improving individual and family health, television and computers should never interfere with eating dinner as a family, getting outside, and playing together. Screen-Free week is a great way to encourage more physical activity and less snacking by turning off the television and the computers. After a week, many people may find this new, active lifestyle to be habit-forming.”
Commissioner Edward Ehlinger, MD, MSPH
Minnesota Department of Health

“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% 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
Early Years Institute

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