Get Revved Up After You Power Down!

Get Revved Up After You Power Down!

Screen-Free Week is an amazing opportunity to reboot, recharge, and rest. It also might get you thinking…

  • Why can’t EVERY week be this mellow?
  • How did our family’s screen habits get so out of control?
  • Why am I still reaching for my phone three days after I stuffed it in a drawer?

Sometimes it takes the act of removing something toxic from our lives to realize how just angry it has made us.

While Screen-Free Week is a positive event, it was created to address a pretty negative phenomenon, namely the fact that our entertainment screens are sucking up huge chunks of our lives. It’s OK to be grumpy about that.

Why not put those feelings to work and devote some of your Screen-Free Week to activism and advocacy, in addition to, the rest and relaxation?

Sound intriguing? Here are some ideas to consider.

Are you worried about kids and screen time?

We are too. That’s the whole mission of Fairplay, the host of Screen-Free Week and the Screen Time Action Network. Both could use your help.

We’ll be needing all hands on deck in the coming months to help support new legislation surrounding kids and screens. Sign up for Fairplay’s email list to learn more.

If that’s not your thing, consider joining one of the Action Network’s work groups on topics like online harms, nature and play, screens in schools, and mental health, or downloading their new Screen Aware Early Education Action Kit. Or, simply become a member.

Are you worried about LGBT+ online hate?

We are too. It’s particularly rampant in social media. In fact, 40% of LGBTQ+ adults and 49% of transgender and nonbinary people say they do not feel welcomed and safe on social media.

So, what if you dedicated your Screen-Free Week to taking a #HolidayFromHate—a campaign started by Screen-Free Week teen volunteers? The goal is to go dark for one week on the social media platform of your choice, wherever you find cyberbullying, trolling, and online hate the worst against LGBT+ and other marginalized communities.

Be sure to pair your “holiday” with a little action, too. Let your social network know why you’re taking the #HolidayFromHate, share the hashtag, and send an email to that platform letting the owners know that people’s lives, voices, and safety deserve more respect.

Also, if/when you return to that platform on May 8, get ready to start using that block or report button to take a more active role in reporting hateful posts.

Are you worried about teenagers?

We are too… and many of them agree with us! That’s why teen volunteers are also running a Screen-Free Week campaign to encourage young people around the globe to take a week off their most toxic social media accounts.

The campaign is called #RememberLife? It’s a chance for youth to reflect on the parts of their lives they’ve lost touch with because of social media, or the parts social media may have damaged. Before their phones took over their lives 24/7, teens were just kids with hopes and dreams. Remember those?

We grown-ups aren’t invited to participate in this particular campaign (WE remember an entirely different kind of teenage life!) But our teen volunteers would love it if we invite the young adults in our lives to follow the hashtag on Instagram and TikTok, share their stories, and take a break, May 1-7.

Need more ideas for taking action during Screen-Free Week, especially when you have younger kids at home? Check out our Screen-Free Saturdays blog post, called “Unplug to Help” for kid-friendly ways to take your Screen-Free Week to the next level!


Screen-Free Teen Roundtable

Screen-Free Teen Roundtable

Our 2023 Screen-Free Week Coordinator Jen Kane, recently sat down with three teenagers, ages 15-18, who have spent over a month screen-free during their summers to talk about that experience. The conversation is excerpted below.

Jen: Can you tell me the pros and cons about having gone screen-free?

Keely: When I did screen free [at a day camp] the phone was still there—in the room—but I wasn’t allowed to use it. That’s okay, but it’s even harder when you go somewhere where you’re not even remotely close to any devices. Thankfully, after a while you start to not think about it.

Jen: So, do you think somebody needs to physically take away your device for you to be able to go screen free?

Kaia: Yes. Sometimes I’ll be so bored, or I’m so sick of my phone, and I actually want to do something else. But then I’m still like, [mimes picking up phone] ‘what’s in this app?’

Keely: I do that too.

Ronnie: Sometimes I’m tired of being on my phone, so I’ll read a book. But I’ll still have my phone next to me. The minute it buzzes, I’m like, [mimes scrolling].

Jen: Do you feel like you’re addicted to your phone?

Kaia: For me personally, yeah. Even when I don’t want to be on it, I’m still on it. It’s the first thing I go to all the time, and I will get stressed out if I’m away from it for a long time.  

Keely: Sometimes my timer goes off on YouTube, and says, “You spent four and a half hours on YouTube.” And I say, “yeah,” cancel the timer, and watch like, another three hours.

Ronnie: I am a recovering Twitter addict. I’ve deleted it for, like, a week so many times. I always re-download it, even though I hate it. It makes me feel so bad that I’m so addicted to it.

Jen: So how did you stop using Twitter in the past?

Ronnie: It was very spur of the moment thing. There was one day where my timeline was so full of this one argument I thought was really stupid, and people were getting so aggressive over it. And I was just like, ‘why do I do this to myself?’ So, I deleted it.

Kaia: That’s something I’ve done a lot too. I don’t have Twitter, but I’ve deleted TikTok so many times, because when I come back down to Earth, I’m like, ‘I’m not having fun. I don’t like this.’ It just makes me feel bad about myself. It makes me overly socially aware and anxious all the time. It makes you question your sense of self.

That’s why I think it is an addiction. When I’m not on it, I’m like, ‘what a breath of fresh air!” Those constant boosts of serotonin in the moment creep up on you in a way that you don’t even realize that social media is the thing that’s making you so miserable.

Jen: Is there anything in the real world that gives you that same high?

Ronnie: Yeah. The Lord of the Rings. [everyone laughs because Ronnie really, really likes LOTR!]

Jen: Okay, so what does it feel like when you go screen-free and eliminate all that noise in your life?

Ronnie: I feel like I have a lot more time to do things. But sometimes I don’t know what to do. So, it’s like, ‘okay, I can read a book and I can journal.’ I can also have conversations about serious topics with friends and family that respect me, which is way different than Twitter.

Keely: When I come back from a screen-free camp, I’ll sometimes catch up with people on my Instagram feed, text people, and watch reels. But that’s about it, unless it’s close friends. I don’t care about everything everybody posts every day.  

Kaia: I journaled about this a lot, especially when I got back from [a screen-free] camp. When I’m really depressed or anxious it’s usually because of social media. Without that distraction it makes me think about myself a lot more. It’s almost like you forget how much fun your mind is when you’re constantly having this other stimulant. You forget what your own brain can do.

Screen-Free week is for teens too! If your teen wants to participate this year, invite them to pledge to participate at The teens above aren’t going entirely screen-free on May 1, simply picking one problematic app from which to take a week-long break. Sounds like a great plan to us!