For Screen-Free Week 2021, we invited the authors from our Screen-Free Week Booklist, in partnership with the Children’s Book Council’s Children’s Book Week, to send in videos of them reading or talking about their books. Enjoy these videos, as submitted by the authors! Here, Gordon Korman, talks a bit about Unplugged and reads an excerpt in honor of Screen-Free Week!
For Screen-Free Week 2021, we invited the authors from our Screen-Free Week Booklist, in partnership with the Children’s Book Council’s Children’s Book Week, to send in videos of them reading or talking about their books. Enjoy these videos, as submitted by the authors! Enjoy Bruno has 100 Friends, read in its original language, Italian, by author Francesca Pirrone.
Each year during Screen-Free Week, we hear from thousands of people who unplugged in a variety of ways. Our CCFC team also takes time to celebrate each year. Since most of our work requires our computers and our team was working remotely, we got creative. So, we set individual goals like getting off social media for the week, taking a walk each day, or taking out some books from the library.
In addition to taking an hour out of the work week to play Pictionary together, a highlight of our staff screen-free activities was MUSHROOM GROWING! Each of our staff members got a kit and the opportunity to grow a crop of oyster mushrooms. Every day for the week, we had to devote a few screen-free moments to caring for our mushrooms and observing their growth. Then, we were tasked with fun, unplugged activities like writing haikus about our mushrooms, rewriting lyrics to a catch song about the mushrooms, recording our knowledge or questions about fungi, and painting or drawing the mushrooms. While one of us was too grossed out to actually grow them, other staff members harvested their mushrooms and made a delicious meal.
I spray. And I spray.
And nothing happens. But wait!
A bump. A sprout. Mushrooms! Yum!
According to Zach,
These dark caps are aliens
Doubling in size each day
Surprise fungus flow
Screen-Free culinary treat
Grossing out a fan
I wonder what com-
Pelled ancient humans to try
These really weird things.
An X in plastic
From nothing blooms tiny lift forces
Mushrooms in a box
Spritz, spritz, spritz we go
What a tasty festering
don’t rinse, don’t repeat
Some people were also lyrically inspired by the growing fungus in their homes. We re-wrote the lyrics to “Rocket Man” by Elton John, “Dancing Queen” by Abba, and “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.
Here’s a rockin’ version of “Roxanne” by the Police (by Rinny):
You don’t have to turn on the red light
Is all mushrooms need to multiply.
You don’t have to soak them in water
Misting seems to work
They don’t care if I do it day or night.
You don’t have to turn on the red light
You don’t have to turn on the red light.
I loved you since I knew you
I wouldn’t talk down to you
I have to tell you just I feel
I won’t share you with anyone else
I know my mind is made up
I’m gonna eat you with ketchup
Told you once I won’t tell you again
It’s a great way
You don’t have to turn on the red light
You don’t have to turn on the red light
And here is “I am Fungi” to the tune of “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor (by Rachel):
At first I was afraid, I was petrified
Kept thinking how gross this smelly box of fungus was
But then I spent a couple days misting these tiny little spores
And they grew strong
And we learned how to get along
So maybe I’ll cook
These oyster mushrooms
Or maybe I’ll hand them off to someone else whom mushrooms don’t make spew
But either way someone will enjoy this crop of fantastic fungi
As long as they make it
As long as they don’t crumble and die
Oh no, no, no; they will survive
As long as I know how to mist, they will stay alive
They’ve got at least one more day to live
I’ve got a whole bottle of water to give
They will survive, They are fungi
Our art work
Even though we shared these experiences on Zoom, it was a chance for us to take a break from work, share some laughs, and to be together. Ultimately, we thrived on this little bit of fun(gi) during Screen-Free Week! We can’t wait to celebrate again next year.
From May 3-9, people around the world took the time to rethink their use of digital devices in favor of play, learning, and real connection. From single adults to whole schools, celebrations looked different. And the best thing is, they all count. Screen-Free Week is a no-judgement, do-what-you-can type of celebration!
This year, people sent in photos and wrote to us about what they did. Here are just some of folks’ favorite activities:
Making popsicle stick towers
Building toothpick/marshmallow bridges.
Starting veggie seeds for a garden
Building an outhouse
Going to the post office
Playing Four square
Hiking across a frozen lake
Spending more time with family
Writing for an essay contest
Walking the dog
Visiting a new coffee shop in town
Painting with watercolor
Playing Hide and seek
Talking and just hanging out
What was the experience like?
Schools, clubs, families, and individuals celebrated, clocking in screen-free hours ranging from a few hours to a few days to the whole week! Some committed to continuing regular screen-free breaks, especially with the summer on its way in the northern hemisphere. Here’s what some people had to say:
“For me, Screen-Free Week meant doing without personal email and social media. I used the extra time reading, writing (letters, parenting journal, planner), and realizing I was less frazzled and more patient spending time with my daughter.” -Lauren, MD
“We didn’t miss the screens because we were having so much fun outside!!” -Jacquelyn, MI
“By the end of the week, I was forgetting my phone at home and the kids were fighting less because there were no TV show choices or time to disagree on!” -Jeffrey, CA
“I thought I would have so much extra time at the end of the day, but we found so many other things to do. I don’t know how we ever made time for screens.” -Eileen, NY
One group of music students, with the help of their teacher, also recorded some songs for us in honor of Screen-Free Week. You can check them out on Instagram here.
And, take a look at some photos of people celebrating. Thanks to everyone who sent in photos!
We’re thrilled to see all of the amazing experiences people had during Screen-Free Week. Want to keep screen breaks a regular part of your life? Check out our Screen-Free Saturdays resources! And save the date for Screen-Free Week 2022, May 2-8!
Every year, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood celebrates Screen-free Week during the first week in May. The ultimate goal of Screen-free Week is to be, of course, “screen-free.” Yet, in a pandemic world, simply reducing screen-time is still a big WIN. Screen-free Week is a celebration – of the exciting and interesting world that we often ignore in favor of screens and the importance of being intentional with how we spend our time – both online and offline. It can also mark the beginning of a journey to be more present with ourselves, our families and our world (particularly if being completely “screen-free” isn’t realistic right now).
We kick off this journey by building a foundation for long-term change – by not just limiting screen time but also renewing our focus on offline (aka real world) engagement. Think of it as two strands of action woven together that will create lasting improvements in your relationships with the people and world around you and with your screen.
Every good journey requires preparation and supplies. We’ve got you covered:
Preparation: Be aware, raise your consciousness
Identify your individual and family’s values, hobbies and interests. Do you value nature, storytelling, cooking, game time? What brings you together as a family? What gives you joy or makes you feel alive? How much time do you currently spend on these both individually and as a family?
Being aware of what you value and what brings you happiness will prepare you to make more fulfilling choices when faced with free time, boredom or discomfort. You’ll also better enjoy the time you spend in the offline world and ultimately, optimize your health.
Supplies: Strategies for being intentional about how you spend your time.
Armor yourself with a treasure box: Create a long list of ways to honor your values and hobbies off the screen. Take a hike, read a book together, try a new recipe, play a board game. Think of these as your treasure box of screen time alternatives, or real life gems. (Need more ideas, check out this list).
Use your treasure box as armor against the screen’s magnetic pull. If you experience a trigger calling you to the screen, if your hand is in your pocket pulling out your phone, if you’re about to click on the TV for the kiddos, use your raised awareness and notice it! At this very moment, break out your armor and head for the treasure box. Pick an off-screen alternative that will make you happy, engaged, or otherwise occupied. If that one doesn’t do the job, reach back in the treasure box and try another! Repeat, repeat, repeat for each trigger or pull to the screen.
Reduce temptations and triggers: If you notice a particular app hijacks your intention to be present, do at least one thing to reduce the distraction: turn off notifications, delete the app from your phone or put your device on silent. You can also set an intention to engage with your device when it doesn’t interfere with the here and now. For example, 10 minutes at your lunch break to look at Facebook.
Separate physically: It’s hard to avoid chocolate if it’s sitting in a bowl on the kitchen table. It’s much easier to eat healthy foods if we fill our homes with fruits and veggies. The same is true for our screens. Separate physically by stowing remotes in a drawer, putting devices out of sight and turning phones to airplane mode while your family pays attention to each other, participates in offline activities and experiences fulfillment in the real world. Feeling brave? Shut down your wifi for a couple hours. Don’t forget to fill your home with books, games, puzzles, whatever you have identified, so you’re more likely to reach for an offline activity rather than a screen.
Do it with company, don’t go it alone: Screen-free Week is the perfect time to engage healthy screen alternatives together – as a family, with friends, or as a community. Research tells us that changing behavior is easier done when you have the support of others. Reach out to some of your favorite people to make screen-reduction goals and when possible (given geography and COVID), real-life plans together.
Create a challenge: Use screen-free week to kick off your efforts and consider making a fun challenge for your family and for yourself. For hikers, how many new trails can you explore this week? This month? How many stories can you read together? How many miles can you run or bike? Can you invent a new board game? Can you build a tower with recycled materials? How high?
Similarly, give yourself challenges to accomplish in your screen reduction. How many times can you avoid opening Instagram or Facebook whenever you’re bored? Can you remove apps that steal your attention? How many? Most simply, can you reduce your daily and weekly screen time as recorded on your device? Track your progress, and consider any and all reductions a win! Baby steps count and add up!
Most importantly, reflect and celebrate: This is what Screen-free Week is all about – the celebration! Take time to reflect on the feelings produced by your different activities. This will help you choose future ones that make you feel good! Here are some starter questions:
How do I feel when I take a break from screens?
How do I feel when I honor and engage my values?
How do I feel when I redirect my behavior to something more valuable than attending to the screen?
For many, the reflection is the celebration. Often, it’s the outcome of the activity that you’ve immersed yourself in screen-free – the amazing meal you created together, the beauty you saw on a hike, the exhilaration you felt on a bike ride, or the laughs you had while playing a game with your kids. Pause to take it all in.
If this doesn’t sound like enough for you, turn to more tangible rewards for yourself and your family, like…a bubble bath for Mom, a celebration with confetti and cupcakes for the kids, a special take-out meal from your favorite restaurant, or $5 toward a new toy, book or board game.
We’ve just spent an entire year very dependent on screens for work, school and socializing. As the cool weather turns warm, as restrictions start to lift, Screen-free Week is an excellent time to rethink our reliance on screens, approach our days with awareness and engage with real life intentionally. Reflecting on the experiences and rewarding ourselves are great ways to start our journey toward a healthier relationship with screens. So what are you waiting for?
About the Authors
Adrienne Principe is the Founder of Turning Life On, a grassroots movement that consults with parents, teens, educators, professionals and communities to inspire and empower healthy digital choices. https://www.turninglifeon.org
Dr. Lela Jacobsohn serves as an advisor to Turning Life On and other youth-centered organizations and institutions. Specializing in public health communication, she focuses her consulting and advocacy efforts on improving the health of young people through behavioral, environmental, and institutional change
Turning Life On created this amazing Digital Wellness Bingo! Click below to download.
For many of us, computing happens, well, on a computer. But William Lau, a teacher of computer science, media, and IT, based in London, UK, shows us that computing doesn’t have to take place on a screen.
In fact, William created a whole book about it, called Computing Outdoors. The book offers “seven screen-free missions” to do outside; each of them teaches a different computing concept.
“The Computing Outdoors book came about during the first Covid lockdown. I thought about how we could make Computing more accessible. Students were spending 6-8 hours a day doing remote learning and many complained about headaches. We were told to cancel all homework, but I created the Computing Outdoors book instead,” he said.
Another way to reframe tech use during Screen-Free Week (and whenever you go screen-free) is to check out William’s Computer Science Coloring Book! Each page features useful information about a wide variety of devices and computing strategies! What’s more fun than a tye-dye colored laptop?
“The colouring book was really designed for my son as he loves computer science and he loves colouring, I wanted to hide the learning in a book and also make it accessible for both 5 year olds and 85 year olds.”
“I think it’s a bit of a fallacy that computer science is all about computers, it’s about a certain way of thinking and solving problems. We use computers to help us, but they should not dominate our lives,” says William.
Thank you to William Lau for sharing these free resources with us, just in time for Screen-Free Week! If you use William’s pages during your Screen-Free fun, feel free to share them with us at screenfree.org/stories.
Mr. William Lau is a CAS Master Teacher based in London, UK. He is also the author of several published works on computer science, media, and IT, including Teaching Computing in Secondary Schools [Amazon] [Routledge]. You can find him on Twitter @mrlaulearning and check out his blog here: www.mrlaulearning.com.
Changing children’s screen habits can be a challenge for both kids and parents. That’s why we created “7 Parent-Tested Tips to Unplug and Play,” strategies for getting young kids to spend less time with screens from real parents who have done it and noticed a world of difference.
Want the children in your life to spend more time playing and less time with screens? CCFC’s great new handout is for you. Clear, concise, and evidence-based, our Healthy Kids in a Digital World brochure is packed with tips, facts, and screen-free activities—and it’s free!