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Screen Free Week


Two hands touching on grass with white flowers

Chances are you're reading this blog post on a screen. Even if you printed out the blog post, you still had to see this on a screen first. Regardless, I'd like you to take a second to think about how many hours a day you spend looking at a screen - whether for work, entertainment, communication, assistance for daily life, or anything else. Be honest with yourself here. Is it three hours? Six hours? Nine hours? This blog post is not intended to shame anyone for time spent on a screen. Goodness knows I'm almost always looking at a screen! However, May 1-7 is Screen Free Week. On paper, yes, it's a good idea. But, you may ask, how do we go screen free when we need technology to live and work and operate in today's day and age? My college friends that are a country away are on my phone, so to speak. All of my client notes are there. Many of my meetings are on a screen. Is it even possible? Maybe, maybe not, depending on your individual screen needs. But perhaps, there is at least a way to mindfully limit your screen time this week.


When we ask ourselves, "What can I do to reduce the amount of hours I spend on a screen?" the answer may get a little fuzzy. I instead ask, "What niche is screentime filling?" (I'm a social worker, that's where my mind goes.) For me, as an ADHD individual, screens and electronic entertainment help offload some of my attentional needs. I can easily put on some mindless noise or videos so that I can focus on my actual work. As I write this blog post, I am listening to music, and typing on a computer. My computer also keeps me connected. There's a lot of communication on the computer - friends from school, work, and even people I've met who live all over the world! These are good things. Screens have a great deal of value in our day to day lives.


However, as with everything, screens are best used in moderation. It's not good for our eyes to be staring at a blue screen for twelve hours a day, for example. And it is easy to get drawn in, spending hours of time down a rabbit hole reading about things that entertain us, sometimes to the point that we lose track of sleep, forget to eat, or fall behind in school or work. So without decrying everything technological, I challenge you, the reader, as I am challenging myself - go out and touch grass. If you have children, you might have heard this phrase being tossed around as a pseudo-insult - essentially meaning stop playing a video game and go outside. So that's what I want you to do - go outside. And say it verbatim to your children (there's a delightful sense of glee from saying things you know your children will find embarrassing or cringey) while also getting them outside. Put down your phone, take off your electronic watch, and leave your headphones at home. Take in the sounds around you, note what you hear and see - is it the city? Is it the call of nature? Try a walking meditation - notice everything of whatever color you choose, or name all the animals and insects you see.


And when you return home and open up Twitter to start doom-surfing, or Facebook to see yet another targeted ad, remember that you have a choice to put it down and go out and touch grass. Carve out nature as something that can fill a niche. And find other things that feed your inner child, as well. Maybe you love playing games with your family, maybe you enjoy going for a run, perhaps you delight in coffee with a friend, or maybe there is something else entirely. Find as many things as you can that allow you to disconnect, and encourage your children to do the same. In fact, the more you model disconnecting from screens and connecting with the world and loved ones in other ways (this may include setting times at home when everyone turns off their electronics), the more likely your children will find the value in doing so.


If a fully screen free week is possible for you or your family, go for it! But, if a fully screen free week feels impossible, take my challenge to go out and touch grass. Disconnect when and where you can. Challenge yourself and your family in whatever way works best for you. Maybe you’ll even find something new that you enjoy!


For more information on screen free week, or to find fun ideas for what to do with your time, visit: https://screenfree.org/


If you have concerns about screentime, electronics, or social media use in your household, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. We are here! Call us at (301) 576-6044 or email us at hello@wbma.cc to schedule a consult today.

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Aaron Sterling, LMSW

Licensed Master Social Work

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