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Screen-free week challenges families to power down, reconnect

© iStock - Chinnapong
Kathryn Carley

(Commonwealth News Service) Starting today, families around the planet will swap their digital entertainment for the annual challenge of "Screen-Free Week."

The global event encourages people to participate in whatever way makes sense, whether it is going without an app or device for the whole week or even just a day.

Jen Kane, coordinator of Screen-Free Week for the nonprofit Fairplay, said the goal is to reduce time spent on screens for entertainment.

"Like maybe for the week, don't have phones at the dinner table, not have phones in the bedroom at night," Kane suggested. "Both of those are great goals to have because they can really impact the whole family dynamic and the health of the family a lot."

Kane pointed out there are no rules to "Screen-Free Week." It is just a chance to power down and reconnect with family and friends.

Studies show school-age children spend more time with screens than in any other activity but sleeping. Screen time increased for everyone during the pandemic, but experts cited a concerning increase in social media use among children ages eight to 12.

Kane advised parents can set rules around screen-time but also set an example.

"It does have to involve the parents because the parents have just a complicated relationship with screens as their children do," Kane noted.

Libraries and schools will also take part in "Screen-Free Week", providing families with activities to substitute for screen time. Participants are encouraged to pledge their goals for the week online at Fairplay's website.