5 Reasons Your Child Would Benefit From A Screen-Free Week

Take a week off to reset by participating in National Screen-Free Week, May 2-8.

Is your toddler sleeping with his iPad? Is your preschooler always playing with your phone? Is your third grader staying inside to play Minecraft everyday? With no real limits and left to manage technology on their own, most children will overuse it. 

As our culture saturates our children with media, our job as parents is to skillfully guide them through the deluge of distractions. While we may try to convince ourselves that their media is educational, social, and healthy, deep down parents know instinctively that our children are getting too much screen time. Instead of getting upset or just caving in to all the craziness, let’s do something positive. Take a week off to reset by participating in National Screen-Free Week, May 2-8.

Here are five reasons your children would benefit from a screen-free week:

1. It gives their brains a break.  

Adrenaline and dopamine are released in the brain with screen use, and these chemicals have a dramatic effect on the young brain.  If you feel that gaming is having a drug-like effect on your child, then you are right–it does. And he needs a break. (You may need a break, too, from your Candy Crush time. Your brain will thank you!)

2. It helps your family reset priorities and connections. 

Real face-to-face relationships are far more significant than screen games and social media. A week off will allow your child to refocus on the people in their lives. Our children desperately need to maintain strong connections with us instead of being so connected to their media. Research tells us that strong family connections and attachments are of the most important factors for predicting future health and success. 

3. It provides children time to explore other interests

Our kids sit down to play a quick game, and before we know it, they have wasted three hours! Yet the danger is not always in what they are doing on the game; it is in what they are not doing: daydreaming, thinking, learning new skills, moving, exploring nature, or reading a real book on your lap. Gaming lowers our kids’ motivation for other worthwhile pursuits. Imagine what other interests your child could explore if he had a week off his screen?

4. It helps children rediscover what real play is.

Screen entertainment does not meet the requirement for real play. According to physician and researcher Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play and author of the book Play, real play is a profound biological brain process that happens in real three-dimensional life, not in virtual life. Real play requires interaction with the real world with hands, physical activity, and imagination that isn’t present in screen-play. Screen-based entertainment can make your child antsy and unfocused.  Typing on a keyboard to build something will never match the brain benefits of actually throwing a ball, building a clay model, or even digging in the dirt.

5. It supplies a reality check.

Taking a week off games and screens will allow us to re-evaluate potential addiction problems in our families and reset our limits and rules. To keep us from becoming the proverbial “frog in the boiling pot of water,” we all need a reality check to reset our potentially addictive habits. National Screen Free Week is the perfect time to start!

For more information and tips for National Screen Free Week, go to http://www.screenfree.org.

Need help?

A growing number of families are taking gaming overuse and addiction seriously and going game-free for a period of time to reset and restore balance in their children’s lives. Local Charlotte workshops are available for parents to learn more about the brain science behind gaming and to get tips on how to prevent screen addiction.  For more information on upcoming workshops in the Charlotte area, visit www.FamiliesManagingMedia.com