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Screen-Free Week: The Challenge Begins

Inspired by three local families who took the challenge, a southeast Michigan mom and writer begins a 'digital diet' with her family, May 5-11, 2014. Find out how she and the family prepared for the week ahead.

Hello! Welcome to my week-long blog about my family's experience with Screen-Free Week, May 5-11, where we unplug everything except what's essential to work and school. My husband, 8-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter and I are turning off our screens and tuning into life. If we can do it, you can too! But can we? Stay tuned to find out how we fare.

We have been anxiously anticipating our first-ever screen-free week with mixed emotions.

We decided to participate after I wrote a story for Metro Parent Magazine about the effort, sponsored each year by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. For the article, three local families volunteered to give up all screen time for seven days this past March. Their experiences were so inspiring I asked my own family to participate.

My husband's first question was "why," and the longer I thought about it the more answers I had. I think it will be interesting to see how dependent we are on screens, how addicted, how compulsive about "staying connected." I want to find out how hard it is to give up our favorite shows, games and mindless searching, and what we find to do instead. I want to encourage my children to overcome their impulse to occupy themselves with media all the time and explore other options instead. Most of all, I want our family to rediscover some good old-fashioned fun.

I must have sounded pretty convincing because my husband started to get really excited. We signed up for the challenge, downloaded pledge cards, told friends and family and took the plunge.

I admit I might have the hardest time of anyone in our family going on this "digital diet" but I am also eager to begin. My 5-year-old daughter could care less. My 8-year-old son is freaking out.

He's been lobbying to avoid Screen-Free Week for weeks, praying to God and his grandma for divine intervention. He has dubbed it "the curse of the screen-free week," and stands as a conscientious objector, refusing to sign the pledge. Still, he will participate, and is already making plans to "double up" on video games later to make up for lost time.

We'll see. I think the challenge might be easier than we think. I hope so, anyway.

The CCFC offers tons of support materials to help families, schools and organizations get the most out of Screen-Free Week including advice, suggested activities, and even a Facebook icon to let your friends know you're signing off.

The key, according to CCFC, is planning ahead.

Here are a few of the things we hope to do:

  • Finish the LEGO Death Star
  • Cross-stitch
  • Plant herb seeds and start a fairy house with my daughter
  • A 1,000-piece puzzle
  • Paint
  • Hike
  • Bike
  • Read real books
  • Cook dinners together
  • Spring clean
  • Discover where the line exists between essential and excessive use of technology

And we're off! Wish us luck!

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