'Screen-Free Week' Is a Wicked Stupid Idea

kids tvIf you have't heard, April 30 to May 6 is Screen-Free Week, which means that your kids are supposed to give up TV and entertainment computer time for 7 whole days. Instead, they're supposed to "unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend time with family and friends."

What a bunch of baloney.

If you ask me, Screen-Free Week -- the brainchild of the Campaign for a Commerical-Free Childhood -- is everything that's wrong with our country today.


It's a (very) temporary band-Aid on a very big boo-boo. Kids should be unplugging, playing, and daydreaming EVERY day of EVERY week. Not just one special week every year. Because let's face it, kids who do watch TV and play computer games have already smoked the crack pipe. They're going to hate Screen-Free week. All week long, they're going to drive their parents crazy. They'll try to sneak on the computer and turn on the TV when no one's paying attention. And if these kids are usually watching TV and playing computer games in their free time then it's very likely no one is paying attention anyway. And as soon as Screen-Free Week is over, they'll be back to their old habits and mom and dad will be more relieved than they are.

It's kind of like taking a kid who eats junk food all the time and putting him on a one-week crash "healthy" diet. All of a sudden he's told he has to eat fish, veggies, fruits, and beef (the real thing not the McDonald's version) for a WHOLE WEEK. Of course he's going to complain and hate it. Of course he's going to make mom and dad miserable and wish they never insisted on this one-week healthy diet and of course he's going to go straight back to eating all that crap once the week is up. (Hey, lots of adults do the same thing when they go on diets.) The point is, your child should be eating healthfully all along. He's not going to learn how to eat healthfully in a week. That's why crash diets fail. Being healthy is a lifestyle not a week-long endeavor.

Similarly, no kid is going to be weaned from TV or Facebook in a week and realize the wonders of a Screen-Free world. It's too late, he's already addicted. Mom and Dad should have exposed him to those wonders years ago -- should have cultivated his imagination, and let him figure out how to entertain himself when he was bored. Kids need to be given the benefit of the doubt that yes, they are smart enough and creative enough and curious enough to keep themselves occupied while mom is making dinner. Don't sell your kid short. Throw out your TV.

Just think, given the time and space to explore and use his OWN imagination every day, your kid could grow up to be the next Walt Disney.


Image via MelvinSchlubman/Flickr

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