Just put it down and walk away. The idea sounds simple enough, and yet addiction to technology is a real issue in youth and adults alike. Return to your former days and discover the joy of life without looking at digital entertainment every few minutes. From April 30 to May 6, unplug with Screen-Free Week. The opportunities are endless. You could finish that book you have been reading, catch up with an old friend or just take a walk in nature with zero interruptions.

It is 2018, why celebrate this concept? It is evident that digital entertainment is dominating kids’ lives at home, at school and in between. Too much screen time is linked to poor school performance, obesity and attention difficulties. For decades, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has warned that children need to cut back on their screen time. The most recent prescription states that entertainment screen time should be limited to two hours a day for children 3-18 years old, and for 2-year-olds and younger, none at all. This may shock many parents due to current lifestyles, yet small changes can add up in your life and in your children’s lives. 

The AAP has tips to achieve this goal including parents modeling effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Co-viewing programs with your children can spark valuable conversation about what they are watching and learning. Making a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices can assist in the effort. Having children sign a contract with expectations can help them learn self-control and responsibility. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.

To help you plan screen-free events, there are handouts in English and Spanish available at www.screenfree.org under the “Essential Handouts” tab. There are also ideas to keep this going beyond Screen-Free Week under the “Additional Resources” tab.

While this event is targeted to children, adults can benefit from putting down the screen and enjoying some time with family and friends. Our society has developed a need for answers immediately. Plan to unplug from digital entertainment and mindless scrolling so that you can embrace real relationships with those around you. Take time to read, be outdoors, daydream, create or explore.

If you have any questions about this topic or others, please contact Chelsi Myer at the K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County office at 613 Holiday Plaza, by phone at 913-364-5700 or by email at chelsim@ksu.edu

Chelsi Myer is a family and consumer sciences agent for K-State Research and Extension – Leavenworth County.