Janet Marshall is the editor of The Free Lance-Star's Healthy Living section and Healthy Life Virginia newsletter. She thinks most things are fine in moderation.
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No screen time for a week?
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wants everyone to shut off their electronic devices this week — TVs, computers, iPods, PlayStations, etc — and “celebrate the magic of being unplugged.”
It’s Screen-Free Week, an annual effort to get people to step away from their laptops, stop checking Facebook and find other things to do than watch TV and play video games. Reading and going outside come to mind.
The week used to be called TV Turnoff Week; the name change is a nod to how many different monitors people stare at nowadays.
The effort to get people to unplug has its fans and its cynics. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages children’s doctors to talk about the week during office visits, and it refers people to the AAP’s Media and Children web page.
“Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors,” the AAP page says.
Then there’s the position of David Kleeman, president of the American Center for Children and Media. In a column in the Huffington Post, Kleeman wrote that it’s better to manage an electronics habit than to go cold turkey. “In the DVR/streaming/tablet era, a weeklong media fast, as with a crash food diet, is likely only to prompt binging afterward,” Kleeman wrote.
Learn more about Screen-Free Week here: commercialfreechildhood.org/screenfreeweek/