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Melissa Arca

Dr. Mom: We're going to go screen-free for a week

Published: Thursday, Apr. 26, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1D
Last Modified: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 - 8:10 pm

I 'm putting myself and the rest of my family on a detox.

It's not a body cleanse or anything like that. It's more of a mental clutter cleanse.

You see, between my Facebook, Twitter and blogging and their iPads, iPhones and television, we are in desperate need of a media detox.

I always was aware of how much television my children consumed. I limited it to not more than two hours a day, made sure the programs were age-appropriate and got them outdoors to play on a daily basis.

Now I've got hand-held gaming devices and portable computers following us everywhere we go. My son is addicted to Snoopy Fair on my husband's iPad, and my daughter is in love with the new Disney Junior show, "Doc McStuffins."

And me? Just try to tear me away from my iPhone or computer while I'm checking Facebook, Twitter, my blog or email.

You're likely to be met with a growl.

So I've volunteered my reluctant family to take part in Screen Free Week, which lasts from Monday through May 6.

This is a national campaign organized by the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

In its words, the goal is to "turn off entertainment screen media and turn on life."

While my goal isn't to give up media use entirely, it will no doubt serve as a wake-up call as we see how much time we really devote to our screens – all of them, because it's not just about television anymore.

Even if you can't participate in Screen Free Week, there are some positive changes you can make so that screen media and your family coexist in a healthy and harmonious way.

Limit your child's screen time (which includes computers, handheld devices, and television) to no more than two hours per day. Set timers if you need to so that after 20 or 30 minutes your child knows it's time to do something else.

Have some household media rules such as no TVs, computers or other electronic devices in your child's bedroom.

No screens at the dinner table. Instead, use dinner time for chatting and reconnecting with your kids.

Make sure you know what your children are watching and playing on their various screens, and find out which social media spaces your teens are frequently on.

Get outside every day for at least on hour. No screens allowed.

Don't worry, our screens aren't going anywhere, and I love "Doc McStuffins" just as much as my daughter does.

Being plugged in and connected is vitally important to what I do. But like I always say, moderation is definitely key here.

And at the end of next week, my hope is that my little family and I truly realize that our connections to each other are way more important than any virtual connections we make.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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