Unplug and Recharge: How to Introduce Screen-Free Saturdays

Unplug and Recharge: How to Introduce Screen-Free Saturdays

We all know that young children are spending more and more time in front of screens. But how much time exactly? Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2010 reveals that kids ages 8 to 18 now have an average of 7.5 hours of screen time every day. 4.5 of these hours are spent watching TV. Over the course of a year, that adds up to 114 entire days of screen time for entertainment!  To counter this ever-increasing screen time, why not consider screen-free Saturdays? Going screen-free is not as hard as you think.    

What are screen-free Saturdays? 

Screen-free Saturdays are an invitation to play, connect, and rediscover the joy of life beyond screens for one day a week. Saturdays are an ideal time to turn off technology devices and reconnect with loved ones over the weekend when devices are not needed for school or work. This is a chance to experience screen-free time and spaces and integrate it as part of your family life.  

The benefits to children and families 

Screen-free Saturdays are a great way to reduce screen time so that your child can explore other interests, build face-to-face relationships, and counter potentially addictive technology habits.   Screen-free days can bring you closer to your family and make you more intentional with your time. By unplugging, your child can increase their social skills. An hour spent watching TV can instead be spent outdoors, doodling, reading, doing sports, or playing pretend. 

How to introduce screen-free Saturdays 

Anticipate your Saturday a few days before  For the first few weeks, set expectations for the event on Thursday and Friday by reminding your child that screen-free Saturday is coming soon! For children that spend a lot of time with screens, this day may be a big change to their usual habits. Remember to keep the tone positive to build excitement.   Plan together  Have a family brainstorming session where you talk about activity ideas. You can also build in a backup plan in case of rainy weather. Ideas can include hiking, camping, playing board games, arts and crafts, trying a new cooking recipe, doing a puzzle, or reading aloud. Reading is a great all-weather activity, making it ideal for this special day of the week.   Print recipes and directions beforehand  Prepare for your Saturday by printing recipes, maps, and any other activity guides you may use beforehand. This way, you won’t be tempted to reach for your phone for logistics or planning purposes.   Schedule activities with different groups of people  Not everything has to be done altogether as a family. You can plan father-son or mother-daughter bonding activities and schedule playdates for your child with their peers.   Schedule alone time  You can give your child the chance to do an independent project, such as arts and crafts or reading. Help them prepare for this separate session by providing them with supplies and toys.   Schedule free time  Don’t let screen-free Saturdays feel like a chore – remember to keep it fun for the whole family and schedule free time for rest. This will make your Saturday a welcomed break from the busy, screen-heavy weekdays.   Turn off your devices  Research from psychologist Sherry Turkle shows that even the presence of our phones is distracting. When it comes to our phones, out of sight is out of mind.   On this day, turn off your phone and put it away completely. If there are people who might worry if they can’t contact you, let them know beforehand that you will be out of reach on Saturday.  Participate as a family  Screen-free Saturdays should be for the whole family – parents included! Model screen-free living on this day. While quickly looking at your email or checking the weather forecast might seem harmless, you can easily get distracted by a flood of notifications. When the adults are committed and take it seriously, children will feel that it is fair and that everyone participates together.   Spend family meals connecting and sharing stories  Prepare the ingredients for your meals ahead of time and get your child involved in preparing and presenting the meal. You can think of different ways to make the meals feel special, with unique meal settings or story-sharing sessions.   Reflect on your experiences at the end of the day  Talk about how you feel, what you accomplished, and what you are looking forward to the following week. This is a great way to see what activities are working and which ones need to be changed or improved. There will be challenges throughout the day, and this is a great time to talk about them and find solutions. These learnings can help your family reduce your dependence on screens for the rest of the week.   By unplugging for one day each week, we promise you will feel recharged and more connected to the world around you!  How do you enjoy your screen-free Saturdays? Let us know by tagging #jookirocks on social media.  
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