Screen-Free Week takes place the first week of May and is meant to encourage families to turn off the electronics and find fun in many of life’s other activities.
Hamlet Smith, Director of Life Strategies Counseling, weighed in on the importance of stepping away from electronics, especially for kids.
“We are wild and wonderful West Virginia and we have such wonderful assets available to us. And yeah, it takes work and it takes looking for it, asking questions, but do it. It’s worth it, our kids are worth it,” Smith explained.
According to Smith, encouraging young ones to spend less time staring at a screen starts with their parents.
“We as parents have to take the lead not only with modeling, but with setting restrictions or setting standards for our children” Smith said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends putting a two hour time limit of screen time per day for children over the age of two. But that is not all; setting up ‘media-free zones’ in the house can be a healthy step to balance social media usage with personal interaction. The dinner table can be the first place to stay off the phone.
“Families that eat one meal a day together have much lower rates of depression, anxiety, and poor school performance” Smith said.
While staying off the electronics before bed can help improve a person’s sleep, it has increased importance for children.
“I think bedrooms are also a bad plan for children to have unlimited screen time. Again, they’re not being supervised so you don’t understand what their interactions are” Smith advised.
Experts also recommend setting physical challenges for kids, such as miles on the bike, in order to keep them active and off the electronics this summer.