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Modern Parenthood

Screen-Free Week: Parents this includes you, and your iPads, too

Screen-Free Week runs through May 6, and while it may be difficult, parents should not exempt themselves from the celebration. So, turn off those iPads, stash the mobile phones, and have a week of screen-free powered-down fun. We'll make an exception for Modern Parenthood.

By Contributor / May 1, 2012

Screen-Free Week runs through May 6, and while it may be difficult, parents should not exempt themselves from the celebration. So, turn off those iPads, stash the mobile phones, and have a week of powered-down fun. This old T.V. waits to be recycled for charity in West Bend, Wis.

John Ehlke/The Daily News/AP

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Hi Parents! Today marks the second day of “Screen-Free Week,” an annual event where child development experts and advocates encourage you to turn off the television, stash away the iPad, hide the Baby Einstein CDs and generally keep your little ones away from electronic interaction.

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Correspondent

is a longtime Monitor correspondent. She lives in Andover, Mass. with her husband, her two young daughters, a South African Labrador retriever and an imperialist cat..

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I’m a big fan of this. Which is rich, really, since you’re probably reading this on, well, a screen.

And because sometimes, just to get these articles written, I will toss "Baby M" my iPhone (which she loves loves loves) so that she becomes engrossed in scrolling and tapping and just stops trying to switch off my computer, which is a new trick of hers, and one that says something, really, about that whole working-at-home thing.

She even posted something on Facebook the other day – a smattering of letters, which conveniently looked like a swear word –  while I was doing an interview. An interview about the dangers of early electronic media exposure. Totally busted. Official Bad Mommy. 

Anyhow, this is all to say I love screen-free week. I love it even though I know that for a lot of families, it’s really hard to follow. 

Screens are just everywhere. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that one in three children under 3 have a television in their bedrooms, and that about two thirds of children aged 8 to 18 report having the television on during meals. (Forty-five percent say the television is on “most of the time” in their home, even if nobody is watching.)

But televisions are just part of it. We don’t even have a television here – yes, we’re one of those families – and the screens are still constantly a-blazing. There are computers, phones, music devices, e-readers.  And we’re not alone. Mobile media use has skyrocketed among kids (in 2010 Kaiser reported that 66 percent of young people had cell phones, and 76 had iPods and other MP3 players), helping drive screen time to a whopping average 7 hours and 38 minutes a day among children 8 to 18, according to Kaiser. (And much of that time is “media multitasking.”)

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