While watching soccer practice at the 1st Ave YMCA, I told my husband we were going to be participating in National Screen Free Week from April 30th-May 6th.  At first he thought I said National Scream Free Week, but then I clarified and he said, “I think it would be easier to do Scream Free!”

I ended up talking him into it, although I am not sure that I can do it myself!

National Screen Free Week is sponsored by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.  They are a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups, parents, and individuals who care about limiting the impact of commercial culture on children.  I care about that too.  I get really worried about the impact of the media on my children.  It disturbs me when the Happy Meal Toy at the 38th Street McDonalds is a sexed up Barbie Doll with a short skirt and big “dumb-looking eyes”.  Or that the Baywalk Muvico, during a showing of a the new Snow White film,  thinks nothing of showing a preview where the woman exposes her cleavage to get what she wants .  Really now people?  Is that necessary?  The CCFC is trying to say, “take a stand” against the companies that practice child-targeted marketing that is excessive and inappropriate.

I know it is a good thing to limit screen time, most of us do, but why then are we seeing more and more of the impacts of the media on children?  Believe it or not, studies have shown that the impact the MEDIA has on children is much greater than the impact that WE have.  Therefore the only way to fight against it, is to limit it.     Here why this is important:

Children are losing relationship skills.

Children need to practice empathy, love and conflict resolution a lot in order to be good at it.

Children are being groomed to become super-consumers.  Buy, buy, buy.  The amount of commercials everywhere is overwhelming.

Children are becoming obsessed with being thin and beautiful.  I have heard of it even as young as 5 years old.

Children are becoming desensitized to violence– it is everywhere, even in many seemingly benign kids shows.

Children are exposed to much more fear and anxiety through the news stories and “headlines“.

Children are being shown skewed identity norms and relationships.  Men are ‘studs“, women show their breasts to get what they want.

Children have more food issues.  Food is viewed as entertainment rather than nourishment.   Our children will die earlier than we do from complications of obesity and diabetes.

SO WHAT CAN WE DO?

Turn off our screens for 1 week- & get out and play!  Crisp Park, Dell Holmes and Crescent Lake Park are good options.

Establish healthy norms and rules on media usage.   Start sooner rather than later because habits are hard to break.

Do everything you can to protect your children from violence, gender objectification, and the overly consumerist media.  Become involved with Girls, Inc. of Pinellas & Pace Center for Girls.

Reduce exposure to commercials by DVR-ing and fast forwarding through commercials.

Give yourself a break and do the best you can when it comes to this stuff. But also know that we are what we ingest.

I will let you know how it goes this week and whether or not I have a husband at the end of it all.  J

Because every minute matters, Paige Michaelis