Reduce Screen Time and Relish in the Moments of Life Beyond the Screen

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May 1 to May 7 is international Screen-Free Week. This week, and beyond, we encourage you to rediscover the enjoyments of life that go beyond what is on our phones, computers, TVs, tablets, and all other entertainment screens. For these next seven days we challenge you to go screen-free for entertainment purposes. We know that adults and children both need screens for working, doing homework, and of course reading this month’s Knowledge for Life article so those activities are exempt from Screen-free week!

Children need plenty of physical activity, creative play, and exploration to grow and develop. All too often, this much needed form of activity is replaced with sedentary screen-time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screen time for children ages 2 to 5 should be no more than one hour a day and no more than two hours per day for children 5 to 17 years old (not including school related screentime). The reality is that children and adults both spend way too much time on screens. Youth ages 8 to 10 years spend about 6 hours a day in front of a screen for entertainment and youth 15 to 18 years spend nearly 7.5 hours a day, almost 4 and 4.5 of those hours, respectively, are spent watching TV!

Excessive screen time can have many negative effects of children’s health. It is linked to childhood obesity, sleep problems, poor school performance, and behavior issues. Too much screen time also has negative health effects for adults including increased risk of weight gain, chronic disease, sleep problems, and poor mental health. Screen-free week not only supports the health of children and adults, but also supports positive family and community engagement and interactions. Screen-free week is a time for individuals and families to try new things at home and out in their community. Here are some of tips to help you reduce your screen time this week and beyond.

  • If cutting screen time to 2 hours seems overwhelming, start by reducing screen time by 15 minutes a day each week until you get down to less than 2 hours a day.
  • Keep TVs, tablets, computers, and phones out the bedroom.
  • Start a family game night ritual.
  • Learn how to cook or try making a new meal. Don’t know how to cook? Check out our monthly cooking classes offered by our Master Food Volunteers!
  • Check out your local library for a variety of activities for kids, adults, and families.
  • Start a family garden. Don’t know how? Check out our K-State gardening resources or contact our Johnson County Master Gardener Volunteers!
  • Check out several of the hiking and biking trails in Johnson County. It is the perfect time of year to get outside.
  • Create your own at-home scavenger hunt.

Need more ideas? Here is a list of 101 screen-free activities to do during screen-free week and all year!

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