Friday, April 15, 2011

How Hooked am I? Thoughts about My Own Screen-Free Week

So my daughter-in-law stopped by the office yesterday to pick up a Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit. National Screen-Free Week, April 18-24, is hosted by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

She, her husband, and the two best little girls in the world—okay, in my world—are going to join in the celebration by giving up screens for a week and hanging out in life. What’s interesting is that she doesn’t think it’s going to be so hard for the children. But she's not so sure about the adults. She’s determined to stop checking her phone at home (which annoys the kids) and their dad is going to stop “staring at the computer” (which also annoys the kids).

That got me thinking about my own Screen-Free Week commitment. At my house, it’s going to be adults only, since we have no children living at home. And I have to admit that I’m excited, but also a little apprehensive. Like many people I know, my own screen time has gotten pretty much out of control.

Here’s what’s going to be hard for me to give up: Wordscraper. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a Scrabble-like game for a social-networking-site-that-shall-not-be-named. I’ve got several hot and heavy games going with friends I don’t see much. Guess we’re going to have to chat by phone instead—or make an effort to see each other. And I’m going to have to find someone to actually play scrabble with me.

I expect and hope that forgoing random television programs and at-home movies is going to be less hard. At CCFC, we’ve had discussions about whether actually going out to the movies counts. What if it’s a documentary? Or some really good indie film?

But here’s the biggest challenge: At CCFC we’ve agreed that we’re not going to check our email or the web after work. Now that’s going to be hard.

Here’s what I’m planning to do instead: Read, walk outside, go hear colleagues give a lecture, have dinner with friends, cook for the holidays, knit, do crossword puzzles. Take two little girls to the circus. Oh—and nothing, absolutely nothing.


  1. And wouldn't you know, there's this really great international children's film festival kicking off this weekend in the Boston area just in time for Screen-Free week.
    Most of the films are showing before the official start of screen-free week, at least. But maybe going out to the movies as a family doesn't count?

  2. I'm leaning toward thinking that going out to a really great film festival is different. . .but we all have to find our own way. One thing, it might be hard to explain the distinction to your children. Let me know what you've decided!

  3. Somebody years ago wrote me a song in response to an editorial I'd written, titled "Turn Off TV." I'm sure I have it but it's for sure on cassette. Still, I should dig it out. Of course now there are screens of all kinds, and for me, the one I'm on right now is the one most difficult to ignore.