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Fewer Screens, More “Free-Range Children”

GRAPHIC: Children  and adults  are urged to resist the tantalizing images on entertainment screens for one week, starting April 29th. Courtesy CCFC.
GRAPHIC: Children and adults are urged to resist the tantalizing images on entertainment screens for one week, starting April 29th. Courtesy CCFC.
April 30, 2013

ANNAPOLIS - This is Screen-Free Week, an annual effort by children's advocates to get kids free from the grip of electronic devices, even if only for a few days.

According to Dr. Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for Commercial Free Childhood, TV used to be the bad guy, but now kids increasingly have their noses in Nintendos, Play Stations, smartphones, and tablets instead of reading, exploring nature, and spending time with friends and family.

"It's not even that screens are necessarily 'bad guys' - except for babies - but it's just that there's too much of them in our lives, and way too much of them in children's lives, and it's important to take a break," she declared.

Some studies show that on average preschoolers spend 32 hours a week enthralled by screened entertainment, the CCFC said.

Toni Riedel, director of communications at the Early Years Institute, believes kids should just go outside and play.

"Y'know, when we were young, we were outside playing," she recalled. "We were what's called 'free-range children.' Today, kids are tied to screens. You know, we're in such a technology-oriented society."

Riedel pointed out that for children from birth to at least age two, every week should be screen-free.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: children under two - no screen media, no television."

Susan Linn said that when families are out with restless kids at restaurants and other public places, mobile screens are too often shoved in the children's faces by their parents, just to calm them down.

"They could bring books, or they could bring crayons, little things that will occupy them if it's really too hard for them to sit for long periods of time," she suggested.

Adults are also encouraged to take the pledge to swear off screen time for a week, and only use the computer if it's required for work.

To take the pledge, and to get more information and materials, do an Internet search for "Screen-Free Week." Yes - you'll have to use a screen one more time ... but you - and your children - may be better off for it.

More information is at bit.ly/XdPstu.



Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD