It is no secret that our children spend a great deal of time with digital entertainment. From televisions to video games, computers, tablets, and cellphones, screens occupy an important place in our lives.
It is important to note that this week is not about putting down digital media, but rather, it is designed to help children focus on life beyond the screen. During this week, everyone is asked to be aware of the amount of screen time they spend daily and balance that with equal off screen activities by creatively exploring and enjoying other activities at school, at home, and in their community.
Record students' answers to the following questions:
Review all the screen-based answers. Ask:
Explain that playing video games and watching TV can be fun, but sometimes it is fun to do other things.
Brainstorm things that can be done without any plugs.
Make a huge calendar for the week and as a class select an activity for each day of the week that can be carried out without screens. Aim for a variety of activities. For example:
Monday- Play an outdoor game such as four-square, skipping, tag, etc.
Tuesday- Select a favourite book and spend time just reading.
Wednesday- Play a simple board game with your family.
Thursday- If possible, go outside and play “Follow the leader.”
Friday- Build a tower or other creation with different supplies from school or at home.
At the end of the week, ask students what else they did that was screen-free. Encourage them to continue to spend their leisure time with a healthy balance of active and passive activities.
Prepare charts with the following headings:
Survey the students by asking and recording if they spend time with these devices every day. Put an asterisk if they indicate computer or tablet use due to online learning.
Spend a few minutes exploring why students like to spend time with digital entertainment.
Continue the discussion by explaining that there are many things they can do that are fun and do not need a plug. Brainstorm several.
Tell students that you will be creating a “Plug-Free” classroom book. It will contain lots of ideas for activities that can be done inside or outside and are lots of fun. The only thing they don’t require is a plug to re-charge them!
Have students work independently or brainstorm as a class fun things to do without plugs. Encourage the use of magazines, newspapers, fliers, etc. that will help them to make their page in the book interesting for all ages. They can make a collage, draw a picture, use words creatively, create a poem, and write a paragraph— anything that will suggest fun activities.
When complete, share the pages with the class. Discuss what might make a fun title for this book. (e.g., “Fun Things to do Without Plugs!”) and collate the finished product.
Read the following fact to students:
The average 5-year-old will have spent 5,000 hours in front of the TV before entering kindergarten, more time than he or she will spend in conversation with his or her parents for the rest of their lives and longer than it would take to get a college degree. (Learn more in the full post on Rethinking Schools.)
Discuss the role that screen-based media plays in their lives and examples of how use of digital technology continues to grow at a rapid pace in our society.
Complete a class survey by recording:
Review various graphing methods and have students work as a class to help you prepare a graph or chart that represents the information above. Have students extend their exploration by taking the number of hours per day and then calculating and graphing the number of hours per week, month, or year spent with digital entertainment and/or educational learning. Share the finished products.
Revisit the fact you shared at the beginning and invite students to consider what could get done in a day, week, month, or year with the number of hours represented in their graphs. Invite them to add callouts or other features to their graphs to represent their thinking.
Explain that this activity was designed to get young people thinking about their use of digital media and also to help them balance their passive and active time.
Close by brainstorming things that they like to do that are “Screen-Free.” Encourage students to balance their leisure time accordingly.
Note: It might be interesting to share these surveys, charts, and graphs with other staff members or parents.