‘Screen-free Week’ aims for balance

FAIRMONT – What was once a week aimed at turning off the TV now encompasses more of the technology that is part of our everyday lives.

“Screen-Free Week” is being observed April 28 through May 4.

The organization “Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood” asks people to cut back on the use of smartphones, TV, computers and video games.

“Usually, the week coincides with nice weather time,” said Martin County Library director Jenny Trushenski.

In support of the week, all branches of the library will offer events.

“Reading is one of the obvious activities you can do without a screen, unless you’re using a Nook or Kindle,” said Trushenski, pointing out one issue Screen-Free Week now faces.

While the event is called “screen-free,” its goal is cut back on screen time when it is not possible to eliminate it altogether. The Screen-Free Week pledge – available at screenfree.org – includes watching no TV or DVDs, not playing any video or mobile games, and using the computer only for work requirements.

In place of technology, children, families, schools and communities are encouraged to spend time with family and friends, explore new activities or reconnect with neglected hobbies.

Numerous studies have shown the harmful effects of too much television or screen time for children, from poor school performance, to attention and behavior problems, to obesity.

There is also the constant bombardment of marketing aimed at children.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated there should be no TV for babies under the age of 2, citing screen time for babies as playing a role in delayed speech development and decreased interactions between parent and child. After the age of 2, the group recommends a maximum of no more than two hours per day.

But in our technology-addicted society, cutting off screen time may be a daunting – if not impossible – task. Which is why the “Screen-Free Week,” encourages a cutback, for starters.

Activities are planned at the Martin County Library in Fairmont every day of “Screen-Free Week” from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Branch libraries in Welcome, Sherburn, Truman and Trimont are also planning events.

o Monday, April 29:

Fairmont Library – “Mess Free Finger Painting”

Welcome Library – “Modge Podge”

o Tuesday, April 30:

Fairmont Library – Homemade PlayDough

o Wednesday, May 1

Fairmont Library – Sensory Table Fun

Sherburn Library – Make and take May Day baskets

o Thursday, May 2

Fairmont Library – “Cat in the Hat” edible craft

Trimont Library – Learn to play card games

Truman Library – Edible spring necklaces/bracelets