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It's Screen-Free Week – Dare You Look Away?

April 18, 2011

FRANKFORT, Ky. - Turn off your tablet, step away from the computer and pull the plug on the TV. Kentuckians are being challenged to do that for a week in a nationwide campaign to alert families to the enormous amount of time they spend with electronic entertainment.

Screen-Free Week, April 18-24, is an effort to encourage parents and their kids to get outside for some physical recreation, take in a community event or just stop texting all the time.

Dana Friedman with the Early Years Institute says while the focus of Screen-Free Week is children, parents have to realize they need to set an example, if their families are not going to turn into uncommunicative, overweight couch potatoes.

"We've all had the experience of walking into a restaurant and seeing mom on her BlackBerry, texting, and dad on the cell phone, and each of the kids has some electronic device. They sit down at the meal and nobody talks to each other."

Instead, parents are encouraged to cut back on their own smartphone tapping, to set an example for their children. The Early Years Institute website offers a list of activities to help free kids and parents from their tech-induced trances.

Jaci Clement with the Fair Media Council says Screen-Free Week aims at helping young people balance their interest in technology with getting out and spending time with people.

"The real goal is to get people to realize how much time they spend either watching television or playing on their hand-held or sitting behind a computer screen."

Friedman feels parents have to step up and acknowledge their own electronic dependency issues.

"Part of the reason why young children don't go outside is because adults don't take them. And a lot of what parents are doing is checking their BlackBerrys non-stop or they're on the computer themselves."

Hiking trails, arts and crafts classes, spring-break recreation camps and nature walks are among the dozens of alternative activities listed on the Early Years Institute website, Screen-Free Week events across the nation are listed at

Renee Shaw, Public News Service - KY