Going Screen-Free Isn’t As Bad As It Sounds

screen free weekPeople usually look at me like I’m crazy when I suggest they do it. But for those brave enough to try it, Screen-Free Week is a fun way to reframe your relationship with screens as a family. Add in the fact that moms all over the world are joining you in torturing their families the same week, and it is that much more fun. 

What started as TV-Free Week in 1994 became Screen-Free Week in 2010, the same year I started forcing my family to celebrate. It is held annually during the first full week of May. The week, sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, is celebrated by libraries, schools, community groups, businesses, and families worldwide. 

After 11 years of participating in Screen-Free Week, we actually look forward to it as a family.* By framing a screen-time detox as a celebration, it makes it easier to enjoy. We always plan a full week of fun activities and really have fun plugging in as a family by unplugging our devices.

If you’d like to enjoy a week off from devices and join my family in celebrating Screen-Free Week, here are a few DOs and DON’Ts I’ve learned over the years to help you be successful.

screen free weekDO have a plan. Each day’s activities don’t have to be elaborate, but it is easy to underestimate how much time you spend on screens each day. 

DO get your family pumped up. Leading up to the first day, talk about all the fun you’ll have!

DO visit the Screen-Free Week website. Here, you can take the pledge, find local activities, and browse the resources and activity ideas.

DO think about what you want your family screen usage to look like after Screen-Free Week. This is an awesome time to completely recalibrate your screen time and set new boundaries around screen time.

DO spread the word. Share on social about all the fun you had (after the week is over!) using #screenfreeweek.

DON’T think you have to be too rigid. Obviously, many of us need screen time for work and school.

DON’T change the rules every day. Decide what Screen-Free Week means for your family, and stick to it. Does texting count? What about ordering groceries online? There are no one-size-fits-all rules, so do what works for you.

DON’T make it seem like a punishment. It is a huge break. As my teenager said to me one year, “It is actually a relief because I don’t feel like I have to be on social media or respond.”   I feel the same way. 

DON’T forget to post a screen-free graphic on your social media accounts if you are usually active. You don’t want your friends and family to worry! 

We hope you’ll have as much fun as we do during Screen-Free Week!

* Truth be told, my husband doesn’t usually participate, but the week does give him a chance to be more mindful about his screen usage. 

Theresa Duncan
Theresa is a recovering fake adult and is now proudly a child who refuses to grow up. She spent a decade developing and facilitating enrichment programs for at-risk youth. Through this work, she saw firsthand the power of play in the growth of emotionally, physically and mentally healthy children. The pressure of pretending to be an adult finally became too much, so in 2014 she and her father Todd (also NOT a grown-up) opened Villa Villekulla Neighborhood Toy Store on Amelia Island. Her two children, Adrian (14) and Francine (3), often exhibit more maturity than she does and are, therefore, the ones in charge both at home and at Villa Villekulla. When she isn’t playing with toys, learning about toys, or talking about toys, she enjoys dance parties and listening to live music with her husband.

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