Revised February 2016

F280, National Screen-Free Week Flier (Play More, Watch Less)

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National Screen-Free Week Flier (Play More, Watch Less)

National Screen-Free Week, May 2–8, 2016

Did you know?

Average U.S. home has 3 TVs; 56 percent have 3 or more.

59 percent of U.S. homes with TV have digital cable.

90 percent of U.S. homes with TV also have a computer with Internet access.

Approximate hours of TV watched per week:

  • 39 by women over age 18
  • 35 by men over age 18
  • 24 by youth ages 12 to 17
  • 26 by children ages 2 to 11

Reducing TV time can help prevent excess weight and obesity.

For children under age 3, screen time is linked with sleep problems.

UnchainSara Gable
Human Development Extension State Specialist

National Screen-Free Week is an annual celebration of the magic of being unplugged. During this week, parents, children, teachers and others across the country turn off screen media — including TVs, video games, computers, tablets, e-readers, cellphones and smartphones — and get in touch with being unplugged.

Use this time to take a look at your family’s screen-use habits. How many hours are spent using a screen compared to doing other activities? Here are some ways to change these habits:

  • Create screen-free zones in the home. Establish one spot for storing and recharging everyone’s handheld devices.
  • Gather the family and come up with a list of alternative activities to sitting in front of a screen. Jot down lots of ideas and post them on the refrigerator. (See suggestions on reverse side.)
  • Make changes gradually. Set limits. Experts recommend no more than two hours a day of recreational TV, computers, video games and DVDs for kids.
  • Know what your children, of any age, are watching on TV, doing on the Internet and seeing on their smartphones. Ask them open-ended questions about what they’re seeing and doing. Ask them whom they are communicating with when emailing and texting.
  • Take TVs out of bedrooms. Sleeping with the TV on, even with the sound off, can disrupt sleep patterns and contribute to fatigue.
  • During meals, turn off the TV and put away other distracting screens and electronic devices. Instead of using them, talk about everyone’s day.
  • Keep the TV and other screens off unless someone is watching them.
Screen-Free Week is a program of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood,

Instead of sitting in front of a screen...


  • Plan and prepare meals together.
  • Visit a park or public library.
  • Go on a picnic.
  • Play charades or board games.
  • Take a walk down the street and collect litter.
  • Dance and sing to music (check your library for music CDs).
  • Have a family talent night.
  • Plant a garden, and tend it daily.
  • Plan a dream vacation or party.
  • Walk around the neighborhood and talk about different houses, trees and gardens.
  • Catch up at mealtimes ("Share one good thing and one bad thing about your day…").
  • Assign everyone a housekeeping chore, schedule a time to do them and celebrate when they're done.
  • Catch up on letter writing, cards and phone calls.


  • Read a book or magazine. Find an author you like and read everything she or he has written.
  • Look for and try new recipes.
  • Do stretching exercises or yoga.
  • Clean out a closet, the garage or the basement.
  • Find a new hobby or dive in to a neglected one.
  • Plant flower seeds indoors. When they have sprouted several inches, transplant them outside.
  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Clean under the refrigerator and stove.
  • Hand-wash woolen sweaters.
  • Set up an easy-to-use recycling station.
  • Read a local newspaper.
  • Organize family photos and write picture captions.
  • Start a scrapbook about your family.
  • Gather and give away old clothes and household items.


  • Think about future careers or jobs. Write a story about yourself being successful in that career or job.
  • Volunteer.
  • Interview your favorite relatives and record their stories.
  • Write poems or short stories.
  • Plan and plant a vegetable garden. Create a weeding schedule for the family.
  • Sing along to your favorite music. Try writing down the lyrics and understanding the song's meaning.
  • Do stretching exercises or yoga with friends.
  • Find a cause, such as saving the earth, that interests you and get involved with a friend.
  • Make a list of things you want to learn. Visit the library for books on those subjects.
  • Find a recipe that your family really likes and practice making it so that it becomes your specialty.
  • Take up a new hobby or sport that interests you.
  • Dance or exercise to music.

Balloons6 to 12 years

  • Play hide and seek indoors or outside.
  • Make a list of what you like about yourself.
  • Play flashlight tag in the dark.
  • Play board games, cards, or memory or dictionary-based games.
  • Crafts: Make greeting cards or wrapping paper, bead necklaces or bracelets. Weave friendship bracelets. Macramé a hanging plant holder, necklace or bracelet.
  • Learn to play a musical instrument and practice every day.
  • Set a goal to learn something new or to save money for something you want. Create a plan to achieve your goal.
  • Write letters to a grandparent or favorite relative.
  • Write a play for family members to act out.
  • Stand on one foot and try to keep a balloon in the air using your hands and other foot.

Under 6 years

What parents can do

  • Create toy boxes that can be rotated by day or week (adds an element of surprise).
  • Make available plain paper, old magazines, safe scissors, markers or crayons, and tape.
  • Keep a dress-up basket full of clothing and safe accessories.
  • Put a long line of masking tape on the floor to use as a balance beam.
  • Create an obstacle course in the yard.
  • Have lots of books available (board books and picture books). Visit your local library.
  • Provide puppets and encourage children to put on a puppet show.


  • Practice spelling new words, including names of family members.
  • Play with water with bowls, cups and spoons on a protected surface in the kitchen.
  • Make a tent out of blankets and "go camping" indoors.
  • Have a parade with simple musical instruments.
  • Practice writing letters, numbers and your name.



F280 National Screen-Free Week Flier (Play More, Watch Less) | University of Missouri Extension