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Screen-free week impossible for teens

Screen-Free Week challenges families to turn off electronics.

Screen-Free Week challenges families to turn off electronics. Credit: handout

Ah, Screen-Free Week. It kicks off today. Am I dating myself to say I remember when it was just simply “TV Turn Off Week”? I remember my son coming home from elementay school with photocopied packets of suggested alternates to occupy us while we missed “The Wild Thornberries” or our other favorite shows. Life was so easy then.

Now it’s called Screen Free week and includes everything with a dastardly screen – laptops, PCs, video game consoles, handheld video game players, cell phones, you name it. And for our household – now a household of two teenagers – going Screen Free for a week is virtually impossible. (Pun intended.) I can barely imagine a screen-free DAY.

To go cold turkey for a week would mean no access to the high school e-board my son uses to track his homework assignments. No access to the portal he accesses from his smart phone to see how he did on the latest tests. No ability to Google words in the thesaurus he uses when he writes essays. No ability to use Microsoft Word to type out his assignments. It would indeed be not just a lark to go screen-free for a week, it would be an academic handicap.

Sure, we could embrace the spirit if not the letter or the week and try to cut out the extras, like using the smartphone for texting or the laptop for Facebook or the TV for renting a movie. The website for the group that runs the nationwide event – Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood – does seem to emphasize giving up “entertainment” screen media in favor of spending the time “playing, creating, reading, exploring nature, and enjoying family and friends.”

So maybe in that spirit, I’ll at least get my teens to forgo Words With Friends for a night and sit down with the parents to play Scrabble on a real-world board. Accomplishing that in itself would be a symbolic victory.

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