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

April 18, 2011

LOS ANGELES - Turn off your tablets, step away from the computer and pull the plug on the TV. Californians are being challenged to do that for a week in a nationwide campaign to alert families to the enormous amount of time spent with electronic entertainment.

Dana Friedman, president of the Early Years Institute, says that, 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 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 now. They sit down at the meal and nobody talks to each other."

Screen-Free Week is an effort to encourage families to get outside for some physical recreation, take in a community event or just stop texting all the time.

Jaci Clement, executive director of 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."

Clement admits this week won't be easy.

"I think people would probably try to kill you if you cut off their access entirely."

Organizers of Screen-Free Week provide activity guides and tool kits for those who can't think of what to do without electronics. Granted, you'll need to power up long enough to access their website, bit.ly/gwBBaY

The EYI website is: www.eyi.org/eyi



Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA