During the first week of May, Bement usually joins schools, families, and organizations across the country in participating in Screen-Free Week. Run by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, this nationally-celebrated week is meant to provide the opportunity to “take a break from screen-based entertainment like social media and TV and rediscover the joys of life away from screens.” The point of the week is rediscovering the world and people around us by making the conscious choice to put down entertainment screens and go outdoors, have a conversation, play a game, or make a memory.
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our usual perspective. We are deeply dependent these days on digital technologies for almost everything: work, school, playdates, contact with friends and family, shopping, entertainment, even health care. A week of being screen-free in May 2020 would leave us without some of our most valuable connections at a time when the closest we can get to face-to-face is by looking at a screen. At the same time, we’re spending more time than ever in front of screens, so the opportunity to unplug from our devices, even for a little while, is that much more important.
This year, as an alternative to Screen-Free Week, thousands of parents and professionals are taking a pledge to go screen-free on Saturdays. Screen-Free Saturdays are an opportunity to put away our devices and put our families first, to take a day to focus on the people and places around us, and to find screen-free ways to relax amid the unusual stresses of the current time. At Bement, we hope our students, faculty, staff, and families will take this pledge and challenge themselves to dedicate this time to activities they don’t get a chance to do every day. Maybe that means making art, practicing a musical instrument, reading a book, playing a game, being active outside, or more. Many of those options are important parts of our regular days at Bement, so the chance to unplug from screens and dive into these pursuits can also be a way to reconnect to those important routines.
The lure of screens is real for children and adults alike, and it takes some planning to make a Screen-Free Saturday go smoothly. This checklist for a successful Screen-Free Saturday is a good place to start, and it also has links to other resources, including read-aloud book lists and tips for avoiding the temptation of a nearby device. We want to celebrate the ways our community members unplug and recharge, so please share your tips and activities to firstname.lastname@example.org -- when Saturday is over, of course!