April 26, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Educators Celebrate Screen-Free Week

National Screen-Free Week has finally arrived—and, if you’re reading this, you probably haven’t yet taken the pledge to dramatically reduce the time you spend using a computer for the next few days. But many educators (and a kid lit publisher or two) are doing just that, encouraging kids to explore a range of non-screen activities, including reading books, going outside, and having fun the old-fashioned way.

During the celebration, adults and kids should make use of their time “to think, read, play, daydream, explore nature” and enjoy the company of family and friends, according to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). CCFC sponsors the event to highlight concerns about the growing amount of time that kids spend watching television, playing video games, and using computers and smart phones in their daily lives. To support parents and educators, CCFC has created an organizer’s kit and quick guides with ideas and activities for both home and school.

Random House Kids is marking the occasion with the launch of its Unplug & Read campaign, spreading the word about offline fun with a tour of picture book artists Chris Raschka, Bob Staake, Dan Yaccarino and Tad Hills. The centerpiece of the tour, according to the publisher, is Yaccarino’s Doug Unplugged, a story about a robot who dares rebel against the constraints of digital learning. The tour will include school beautification projects and other activities encourage families to go screen-free.

K–5 teacher librarian and popular education blogger John Schumacher says he is participating by darkening his blog, avoiding television, limiting his computer time to work hours only, and exploring lots of offline activities such as visiting museums, daydreaming, and reading. He is encouraging student participation in the event, and has also pledged to encourage at least two strangers to do so as well.

SLJ’s own Kathy Ishizuka, executive editor, is also on board. She has pledged to limit her computer to work hours only, and set aside the current reads on her Kindle in favor of some good old-fashioned paper books. “I’m being forced to dust off some other titles I’ve put off,” she says. And Daryl Grabarek, SLJ‘s editor of Curriculum Connections and apps reviewer, pledged to forego that technology—and her “Touch and Go” column this week—to make the most of this week’s spring days.

Are you participating? If so, what kinds of activities are you hosting? Or are you conflicted about participating? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Karyn M. Peterson About Karyn M. Peterson

Karyn M. Peterson (kpeterson@mediasourceinc.com) is a former News Editor ofSLJ.

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  1. I didn’t really have time to prepare anything to participate, so what I am doing is Tweeting and posting on Facebook, just to give parents a Heads Up. Didn’t find out about Screen Free Week until just a few weeks before it was to happen, and I need more time than that to plan! I think it is a good balance to remind parents to go outside and to turn it off now and then.