3 May, 2016
Unplug and reconnect during Screen-Free Week

Thanks to technology, we are more plugged in now than ever before. iPads babysit toddlers, children own actual smart phones instead of toy phones, and everyone has unrestricted and often unfiltered access to the wealth of information floating around on the World Wide Web – both good and bad.
In this current age of information overload, we can easily feel disconnected from the rest of the world if we aren’t constantly plugged in and switched on, filling our minds with a constant stream of information – current events, celebrity gossip, social media updates – to cure us of what pop culture calls “FOMO.” (For those of us who prefer our acronyms spelled out, that’s the “fear of missing out”.)
Now imagine being asked to turn off all your screens – phones, tablets, TVs and computers – and to disconnect entirely from all forms of digital entertainment and stimulation for a whole week. If the idea sounds blasphemous, this is exactly the kind of response Matt Labalme and Henry Pawa were trying to highlight when they founded Screen-Free Week back in 1994 in an attempt to raise awareness of the growing issue of excessive screen use.
They argued that children growing up in this generation are missing out on some of the activities integral to childhood, such as playing outside, using their imaginations, and being sociable with others their own age. Excessive video game playing, web surfing, and TV watching have been linked to child obesity, attention deficit disorder, and poor academic performance. Adults today might find it easier to switch off since many of us grew up without unrestricted access to technology. But we have a responsibility to educate the next generation on the importance of striking a balance between the virtual world and human connection.
Screen Free Week is an annual, global initiative that asks participants to “power down” their screens for a week in order to swap digital entertainment for the joys of everyday life beyond the screen. The goal is to get children and families to take this time to reconnect with the world around them, to ultimately reduce dependence on digital entertainment and rediscover the importance of human connection.
So starting 2 May, unplug and read; explore; daydream; play, and reconnect. Going screen-free for a week might provide the down time you didn’t realize you needed!
Screen Free Week is taking place from 2-8th May 2016. For more information about the campaign, visit the official webpage.

By: Jennifer Khoo


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