Random House Children's Books is strongly promoting this year's Screen Free Week, April 29th - May 5th. They are urging kids and parents everywhere to Unplug and Read. Today they published this video, in which four well-known author-illustrators (Bob Staake, Chris Raschka, Dan Yaccarino, and Tad Hills) call for kids to unplug, and spend their time doing other, more active things. It's well worth a look.
There are lots of great reasons to get kids to unplug, though of course it's hard to do. More time to read, more time to play, more active play, more use of the imagination.... The list goes on.
Here are a few things I've noticed about screen time and my three year old:
- The more time she gets, the more time she wants. This goes for movies and iPad time, her primary sources of screen time. Screen time is highly addictive.
- When she's absorbed in the iPad, she is oblivious to things going on around her.
- When she watches movies in the evening, she doesn't sleep as well. She tends to wake up during the night, and wake us up, because she's afraid of something. Presumably, she is having bad dreams.
- When we watch television in the evening, we end up with less time for reading books, mostly because my husband and I get tired, and can't stay awake to read as many as our daughter would like.
This is not to say that we don't derive any benefit from this screen time. Most of the apps that she uses on the iPad are educational in some way. She does puzzles, she learns some vocabulary, she does some concentration-type practice, etc. And when we watch movies as a family, we build a common frame of reference. My husband and I can share movies that we love with her. We now sing songs from The Sound of Music most nights before she goes to sleep. And of course, screen time sometimes provides a break for me, time to read the paper or take a shower in the morning. But I try to keep it to minimum, because of the above behaviors that I've noticed.
So what I plan to try to do during Screen-Free Week is replace my daughter's several mornings per week iPad time with reading together, even if it means I have to find time to shower and finish the paper later in the day. I'll also see what I can do about not watching any television in the evenings. (We don't watch much, but as I said, she gets a bit addicted, and always asks. She doesn't get any screen time during the day as it is.) I'll be interested to see how that affects her sleep. I'll report back.
How about you? What are your plans for Screen-Free Week?