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Families Unplug for One Week in Screen-Free Challenge

Three local families forgo their tablets, TVs, computers and smartphones for one week – one long week. Find out how they fared – and whether you could go screen-free like them.

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Imagine giving up all digital entertainment for a week. No Xbox. No Netflix. No smartphones. Not even network TV. Would you do it? Could you?

We rely so much on media to keep us busy, we may not even realize how often we're tuning out of real life. It can quickly become a mindless addiction … texting at dinnertime, compulsively checking email, turning every family outing into a status update.

According to the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, screen media dominates the lives of far too many kids, displacing other activities integral to childhood like reading, playing, creating and daydreaming.

The CCFC says excessive screen time has been linked to poor performance in school, childhood obesity and attention problems.

To combat the negative effects of digital overindulgence, the organization sponsors an annual Screen-Free Week celebration that asks families to unplug everything except essential work and school activities for seven days.

In anticipation of 2014 Screen-Free Week, which is May 5-11, we asked three Metro Parent families to go on a digital diet for one week in March. All three families depended on screen entertainment in their own unique ways and found giving it up to be difficult but enlightening.

A mid-week snow day off school made the experience even more challenging – and even led one family to give up and plug back in early.

We hope their stories inspire you to take the Screen-Free Week Pledge, or at least more closely analyze how media impacts your own family.

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