A Week of Rediscovery
What is Screen-Free Week?
Screen-Free Week is an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond ad-supported screens. During the first week of May, thousands of families, schools, and communities around the world will put down their entertainment screens for seven days of fun, connection, and discovery.
Even though it’s about turning off screens, Screen-Free Week isn’t about going without – it’s about what you can get! An hour once dedicated to YouTube becomes an hour spent outside; ten minutes whiled away on social media turn into ten minutes spent doodling; a movie on a rainy afternoon is replaced by time spent reading, chatting, or playing pretend!
You can celebrate Screen-Free Week at home, in your school, in your community, or anywhere – just put down those entertainment screens and do literally anything else! You might be surprised at what you find.
(“Entertainment screens” means that you can’t use Screen-Free Week as an excuse not to do your homework or your job. But if you’re a teacher or boss, you can help everyone celebrate by reducing the amount of screen-based work you assign!)
Screen-Free Week 2021
We all need time to unplug. But with the pandemic, what we all need around screens right now looks very different from household to household, from town to town. We’re in the same storm, different boats.
So, this year for Screen-Free Week 2021, we’re inviting you to come as you are and celebrate however you can, whether it’s by unplugging for one day, shutting off your phone at dinner time, spending more time outdoors, or taking the whole week to only use screens for work and school and enjoy some serious offline fun!
We don’t want to put any additional pressure on schools and organizations whose plates are overflowing, so we’re keeping it simple: participate as you can. Our fun resources will be here when you need them – from activity ideas to organizing kits to pledge cards and beyond! Our resource library is being updated with 2021 materials as we speak.
We certainly don’t know what May will look like in 2021, but we’re all in this together. Kids, grown-ups: we all need a little time to put down our digital entertainment devices in favor of real-life connection and play.
Why Screen-Free Week?
A healthy childhood depends on a surprising thing: play! Through creative play, kids explore their physical world, build their curiosity, and expand their imaginations. But often, time spent on ad-supported screens displaces the kind of creative play kids need to thrive.
It was this displacement that worried Henry Labalme and Matt Pawa when they created TV Turnoff Week in 1994. Over the years, millions of kids and families joined Henry and Matt in turning off their TVs and going outside, playing, and having screen-free fun. In 2010, TV Turnoff Week became Screen-Free Week and it found a new home at Fairplay.
Not only does Screen-Free Week allow people to enjoy time away from news feeds, targeted ads, and autoplay videos, but it gives families and communities an opportunity to come together and connect with each other. Don’t just listen to us, though – hear from Screen-Free Week participants themselves!
Elementary and high school students from Chicago Waldorf School clean up
Welles Park during Screen-Free Week 2017.
What People Are Saying
Who is the team behind Screen-Free Week?
Fairplay (formerly Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood) is dedicated to ending child-targeted marketing and teaching people about commercialism’s impact on kids’ wellbeing. Since 2000, we’ve led a powerful movement of health professionals, educators, advocates, and parents who believe that childhood should be shaped by what’s best for children, not by corporate profits. By helping kids, families, and communities unplug from ad-supported screens, Fairplay helps children get the time and space for creative play – and face-to-face relationships with caring adults – they need to thrive.
Rachel Franz, M.Ed
Rachel (she/her) is an advocate for young children, with a deep commitment to helping children and families find meaningful connections in a media-heavy world. Rachel earned a B.A. with honors in Environmental Studies, where she published her innovative research on picture books as a tool for consumerism education, and received an M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from Champlain College, focusing on nurturing preschoolers’ self-control in an “instant gratification society.” Rachel has worked as a founding Director and Lead Teacher at the nation’s largest all-outdoor preschool, and is a founding member of the NAEYC Young Professionals Advisory Council.
Jean Rogers, M.S.Ed
Jean is the Director of Fairplay’s Children’s Screen Time Action Network, a coalition of practitioners, educators, advocates and parents working to reduce children’s excessive use of digital devices and support principles of healthy child development. Author of Kids Under Fire, she has been presenting, writing and speaking about children’s screen use since 2009. She holds a Master’s in Education and a Certificate in Parenting Education from the Wheelock School of Education at Boston University. She joined Fairplay in 2016, inspired by the work of founder Susan Linn and the organization’s capacity to prevent commercialism from usurping children’s character, habits, and creativity.
Sam is Fairplay‘s Communications Manager. Prior to joining Fairplay, she served as an AmeriCorps member at BEST Hospitality in Boston, where she taught English and civics to members of Local 26. Sam studied online volunteer communities at Harvard University, where she graduated with a BA in Social Studies. Sam lives in Michigan where she enjoys finding new favorite restaurants and cooking.
Rinny Yourman, J.D.
Rinny is Outreach Coordinator for the Children’s Screen Time Action Network and an advisor for Screen-Free Week. Rinny has worked as a litigator and federal law clerk, currently volunteers for a county consumer protection agency, and previously served as a board member and marketing committee chair at a parenting nonprofit. Rinny earned a JD and a BA in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania. She and her family have celebrated Screen-Free Week for nearly 10 years!