Time for a Digital Cleanse! Join Us For Screen Free Week April 30-May 6

April 12, 2012 Ommm…want to join me in turning off all glowing electronic devices to celebrate CCFC’s Screen Free Week  of insight April 30-May 6, 2012? It’s a great chance to unplug…and reconnect.

Much like the freebie candlelight yoga practice I stumbled upon last evening, it’s a welcome surprise to experience the calm, centered, simplicity tuning into one’s internal compass and tuning out the digital hum.

It enables you to reset your own priorities, right your course and (re)create your pathways away from the ‘always on’ deluge of distractions and interruptions.

We all know children need to stretch their developing bodies as much if not more than their emerging minds, so this screen free respite is a strong reminder to explore alternative forms of play, outdoor romping, tactile chalk art, indoor forts, yoga, tumbles and imagination soup all swirling into a pretend pot, as I wrote in this interview with Susan Linn about The Case for Make Believe and this one on defending pretending and the value of unstructured play.

Screen Free.org has it’s own resource-packed site, and while some approach the week as if it were like unclamping the IV digital drip weaning slowly with reticence like withdrawal from an addictive substance, I tend to free-fall into the zealous ‘yank the dang plug out of the socket and go dark, woohoo!’ gleeful camp of participation.

Want to join in the fun with your own group, or family, or challenge a grade by grade gadget-be-gone, “all screens off” week throughout the entire school? Here’s a free CCFC ‘how to’ kit.

Now, just pick some activities to highlight, plunk them on the Screen Free Week map of events and announce your intention to get the word out.

Our own kick-off event is May Day!

Shaping Youth and Reach and Teach are teaming to host eco-games, read alouds, crafts, and night time outdoor ‘glow-tag’ fun…(We even have a free book giveaway at the end here, see the video below)

We chose May Day as a double entendre ‘call to action’ because this new study showing nearly half of pre-schoolers are not playing outside is a clarion call to Rich Louv’s “The Nature Principle: Human Restoration and the end of Nature Deficit Disorder.” (he’s just posted a FREE ‘field guide’ to get us all hiking down that path together)

I’m not shouting “May Day” in alarmist style, but rather invoking an alert for healthy media balance (here’s CCFC’s pdf fact sheet on kids and screen time).

For those of us who are fully immersed in media literacy and digital doings, we ESPECIALLY need the unplugged respite and peacefulness of being AWAY from pings and bleeps and chimes tugging at the hem of everyday living like a petulant child.

Screen Free Week may seem like a challenge when wee ones are using smartphones as play toys, parents are doing the ‘pass back’ in the car seats and tablets and apps offer copious quantities of creative engagement just a swish and tap away. But that’s all the more reason for a ‘digital cleanse’ to reconnect to the very base level core job as parents to introduce new elements and encourage self-guided creativity.

Reach and Teach is a fabulous learning hub to do just that.

Their focus on peace and social justice means their entire collection is hand-selected with fair trade, painstakingly sourced items and topics that raise the emotional ‘EQ’ as well as IQ of humanity.

From understanding the earth and our relationship to its health, to gender equality and diversity in a wide range of childrens’ books their new San Mateo hub is a perfect community meeting spot to bring together Screen Free Week as well as our newly announced resurgence of our parent education monthly film fests, with the first screening for the spring taking place May 15, 2012, CCFC’s Consuming Kids along with Shaping Youth’s activities and media literacy Q&A.

I’ll be doing a follow up post “5 Reasons, 5 Studies” to give point by point details on “why to try” Screen Free Week (again, up to you how you want to participate, but here are some FABULOUS ideas of what others are doing to get you started)

I’ve noticed a dearth of ‘free thinking’ ideation and the need for ‘help’ and ‘starters’ to get the ball rolling in terms of how to make NON-screen media and outdoor time equally alluring when our cultural currency is cool media…so CCFC is smart to use social media to SHARE ideas so they can be replicated nationwide and mapped and pinned to get folks thinking about face time, buildables, creative arts and face to face open-ended play time.

Even products that were once specifically ‘free form’ like Lego, long lauded as open-ended building blocks of the future has gone ‘pre-fab’ with its assembly kits, licensed themes and now of course, the controversial Lego Friends’ gender bias dumbing down female figurines into appearance-driven slices of topicality instead of STEM suitable build your owns with colorful blocks guiding toward ANY interest and opportunity. Why not approach the possibilities and plausibility of neuroscience and brain plasticity for BOTH genders in positive, free form play? Let’s do it.

Come play with us in the neighborhood, (we’re also converting the grassy local fenced in dog park into an evening game of glow-bracelet tag which should be a hoot)

Get moving with some kids parks and recreation meetups…and share arts, crafts, and book club storytime with us on May 1st at Reach and Teach, in San Mateo, (map here).

To celebrate the merge of ‘old school media’ and new school wonders, we’re asking you to leave a comment about what YOU plan to do for Screen Free Week to be auto-entered into our  giveaway of the charming, inspiring award-winning book “Press Here” by Herve Tullet.

You’ve all seen the presumption/viral video of a baby swiping her finger across the print magazine in an ‘ipad’ motion right? (developmentally tactile play, probably, but hey, who knows) And I love the hilarious Good Night iPad digital ditty riffing on Good Night Moon below…

Well, this one’s a keeper (and a great baby shower gift reminder to READ/cuddle not just hand over the iPhone with a voice recording) Press Here by Herve Tullet connects the dots (literally) with colorful amplification of ‘how things work’ using imagination and the printed page. They multiply ‘like magic’ to bridge the two worlds of digital depiction and pretend play in a brilliantly simple concept that the author executes beautifully.

Here’s the book trailer (digital marketing in itself, and the behind the scenes peek at the evolution of a book trailer too!)

See? There’s a screen free week idea right there…a puppet show enacting scenes from any book we might encounter at Reach and Teach or a storyboard explaining through art how a book comes to life. The options are endless and the choices are yours.

Join us to unplug, and reconnect.

See you at Reach and Teach for snacks and screen free celebration on May Day!

Screen Free Week – April 30th – May 6, 2012 from Media Education Foundation on Vimeo.

A Few Related Posts on Shaping Youth About Play

If Kids Could Be Dolphins: The Power of Creative Play

Seeding Green With Richard Louv

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged

Can Somethin’ Be Done About All This Consumption?

Power of Play Series: Innovations in Getting Active Pt1

Power of Play: Tag-Teaming Innovation to Get Kids Moving Pt2

Power of Play Series: Active Video Games in Schools Pt3

Shaping Youth Related Reading On Media Management

Media Management: Addiction Vs. Agency Pt 1

Media Management: The Context of Control Pt2

Media, Medicos & Critical Thinking: Addiction vs Agency Pt3

Media Slave, Reshaping Habits For More Summer Fun

Amy Jussel On Kids Media Mgmt & Childhood Matters Radio

Geolocation: Facebook Places Is It Only ME? Disabling for Privacy

Shaping Youth’s SCREEN FREE WEEK Ideas

Spring Break Sanctuary: Ideas to Celebrate Screen Free Week

Spring Break Sanctuary: Away From Digital Drama (Screen Free Teens/Catalina)

Lessons From Youth On Screen Free Week

Nature Rocks! Reconnecting Families

Digital Detox: Checking Out For SY Founders Week

Shaping Youth: NCLI: Get ‘Em Outside!

Shaping Youth Joins Eco-Literacy Coalition: NCLI

Shaping Youth: The Great Turtle Race

Planting Earthseeds Via The Magic School Bus: Eco-Media For Kids

40 Eco-Tips for Earth Day and Mindful Media Mgmt. Worth “Recycling” To Friends

Media Overload: Behavioral Reverb

Your Brain On Computers–The Unplugged Challenge (NYTimes)

Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime (NYTimes)

Outdoors And Out of Reach: Studying the Brain (NYTimes)

More in the NYT Series/This is your Brain on Computers

Are Digital Devices Making Us Less Creative? (SpinSucks)

Unplug Your Kids Blog (by “Mom Unplugged”)

For Teens Today,  Online Ties As Strong As Family (CNET)

Facebook To Reach Saturation Soon? (Social Media Today)

How Important Is It to Unplug? (SpinSucks)

This is Your Brain on Farmville (Consumerist)

The Dangers of Digital Detoxing (The Daily Beast)

New York Times – An App That Reminds You to Unplug

Boston Globe – Unplug and Reboot

San Jose Mercury News – Religion on your iPhone?

San Francisco Chronicle, Leah Garchik – Tuning Out

CBS Radio, San Francisco – Nonprofit Calls for A Day Away From Technology

Psychology Today – Fasting, Gorging or a Balanced Digital Diet?

CBS Evening News-  Kate Couric’s Notebook:  Unplug

USA Today-  Rediscovering the Sabbath on National Day of Unplugging

Wall Street Journal – Experts Recommend Tech Detoxes

American Data Diet/Info Overload:

Consuming Appx 34GB per day & Counting (Mashable)

Overcoming Information Overload? (VentureBeat)

How Info Overloaded ARE You? (Take Beth Kanter’s Quiz) See Yourself?

Tips For Handling Info Overload/Coping:  Too Much Content! (GigaOm)

Information Overload Research Group (IORG) (amazing resource)

Information Overload Day (yes, it has its own day too! who knew?)

Also from IORG:



  1. First, for the folks emailing to ask ‘where did you find a FREE candlelight yoga session?’ I’ll answer it’s a brilliant marketing move by a yoga/fitness shop (see LuluLemon.com)

    Second, I’m thrilled to announce we’re ADDING to the fun fest on May Day…as we’ve just confirmed through Reach and Teach that the illustrator of Our School Garden will be joining us! Post forthcoming but check it out:

  2. Mike Robinson says

    Cool Amy !
    Our School Garden is very interesting. I really enjoyed reading it especially about Rick Swann…… Cheers !

  3. What a great idea – and why don’t all responsible parents get their children to opt into one screen-free day per week. A great idea for quality family time and chill time!

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