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HomeAcademics & ActivitiesSummer Activities

Screen-free week

Are your kids spending too much time sitting glassy-eyed in front of a screen? Are you? Here's how to turn it off.

By Connie Matthiessen

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Turn off the screen, reconnect as a family

Texting, gaming, watching television, chatting on Facebook: Has your household been overtaken by midsummer screen stupor? With so much free time on their hands, many kids believe summertime means electronics time — and busy parents may find it hard to put on the brakes.

But experts say that too much screen time can be habit-forming. Some believe it may even fundamentally alter the wiring of a child's brain. At the same time, the quality of family time suffers when everyone's staring at a screen. Studies show, for example, that 55 to 78 percent of U.S. families share meals with the TV on.

Instead of nagging or moving the entire family to a remote cabin in the woods, how about simply going screen-free for a week? We've come up with some fun, engaging, and entertaining ways to help your family unplug — and reconnect. Try these screen-free ideas — and be sure to let us know how it goes.

Photo credit: PinkStock Photos!

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

08/17/2011:
"I am also appalled at the comment that GreatSchools asks too much of the parents by asking them to be involved. I work a full time and a part time job, have an 11yr old step son and a 5 mo old. Do I get much down time? No. But that doesn't mean I am going to stop parenting! Is ONE week really too much to ask? Are you really so self-centered that you don't want to parent your own child? Yes, moms used to stay home and didn't have to work outside of it, but they also hand washed clothes, cooked meals from scratch, cleaned their own houses, etc. There are A LOT of things that help us moms. TV can too, but not ALL THE TIME. Play with your kids. Go to the YMCA and drop them off at childwatch and workout. I bet you'll feel much better for taking care of yourself in such a POSTIVE manner. And, you can MAKE your child play by themselves WITHOUT SCREENS, just like kids used to. It's called being the parent. YOU are in charge, not the KID. Go to the $ store and buy som! e craft stuff and tell your child/children to be creative. Have them read a book. Seriously, when did NO SCREENS mean I have to hold my child's hand every second???? "
08/1/2011:
"Look up irony "isn't it kind of funny". And "It's too bad that every single idea you have offered involves parental involvement." Are you for real?? What a drag we have to raise our kids! "
07/25/2011:
"Isn't it kind of funny that this picture shows the parents in the background sitting happily in front of their laptop screen?! "
07/25/2011:
"It's too bad that every single idea you have offered involves parental involvement. Mom's use the screen to get some free time from our jobs as the cruise director on this party ship called summer vacation. Can't you provide suggestions that a child can do on their own? "
07/25/2011:
"This article help me a lot and how spend time with my kids. "
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