Today starts National Screen Free Week! Have you and your family ever participated in the challenge to go for a week without screen time?   

We are all so “wired” these days and technology is at our fingertips day and night. It has become all too easy to get into the habit of having “screen time” be the entertainment of choice for family time.  Whether that is watching TV, playing video games, being on a computer/laptopiPad, or on a smart phone (or Blackberry for me).  Anything with a screen counts.  

It is not going to be easy to go an entire week without these forms of entertainment that is for sure! Your children (not just teens) will think you have gone crazy.  Make it a fun challenge and engage other families, neighbors, co-workers to participate in this as well.  As the saying goes “misery loves company” and your children will not feel as if this is a “punishment”, which it is NOT, if their friends are doing the same thing. We may all find that it is really not miserable but rather enjoyable! 

Think of all the opportunities to engage in true “face time” in the real world rather than the virtual world. There are so many activities that you can do together with friends and family that you may have forgotten about. Why not go outside after dinner or next weekend and have a family ball game or jump rope contest ( every child needs to know how to jump rope - life skill, right?). If the weather is still too chilly in your part of the country what about board games (Rummikub is a family favorite of ours, as well as Scrabble), or the favorites of the younger set Candyland and Chutes and Ladders.  Everyone loves Monopoly too. 

Get the kids involved with some things they would like to do; maybe family bowling on Friday night (keep score on paper!)  A trip to the library to pick out a book to read aloud as a family. What about cooking a meal together (all ages can participate in this) and invite another family to join you?   

I hear so many parents complain about how much time their children spend “on screen”, but I also hear tweens and teens complain that when they get together with their friends “everyone” is preoccupied with their phones and texting rather than talking. This is a good place to start changing some behaviors that really have become rather bad habits. 

So take the challenge and start today - model the behavior for your children! Be creative and see how it goes....let me know how you do.