TORONTO, ON, May 5, 2014 – Screen-Free Week, an annual campaign encouraging kids to take a seven-day break from computers and televisions, kicks off today. However, the promotion does more than just bring awareness to the huge number of hours North American children spend gazing at screens every day. The week is also designed to promote lifestyle changes: showing families how well-being is improved when they discover alternate pastimes and a life less dependent on digital media.
Toronto Waldorf School (TWS), through the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America, is a sponsor of this event and would encourage all families to give this week long experiment a try. Waldorf schools encourage parents of pre-school and elementary school-age to go further and choose a ‘screens-free lifestyle’ in order to create the optimum environment for their children's intelligence to grow and develop. TWS takes seriously the mountains of research indicating that screen-time for children creates health problems, social / psychological problems, and learning difficulties in children, as well as undermines family relationships.
"Children who grow up with significant media exposure have a more difficult time learning how to play and entertain themselves, which makes parenting much more difficult,” says Todd Royer, Toronto Waldorf School teacher. “Any parent who has had to turn off the TV while children are watching it, or who has watched their child sit for hours and play video games will tell you there is an addictive aspect to media to which children are very susceptible. It is our experience that if a family wants to become ‘screen free’ it takes about a month for the children to overcome the constant desire to have screens on."
Current research, recently published by Oxford Professor Baroness Greenfield, tends to confirm what Waldorf education has been suggesting for decades: “Our experience in the classroom is that children with significant time spent in front of screens are more easily distracted, less able to focus and absorb new material, or recall material covered in class in previous lessons. They want to talk about what they have seen in their screen time, trying to process things that often don’t make sense to them. Children are more tired, often describing late night TV or computer activities, or restless sleep. Sometimes students are more passive, wanting “instant gratification” from the material we present, rather than being ready to tackle a challenge and work through to get an answer. We worry about the growing effects of screen time on our young people.”
Screen-Free Week organizers want communities across Canada to choose other forms of entertainment during their tech-free week. Instead of relying on television programming for entertainment, participants can read, try their hand at a craft, explore, enjoy nature and spend time with family and friends. Toronto Waldorf School would encourage the parents of growing children to consider the messages of Screen-Free Week, the mounting research, and the experience of teachers around the world 52 weeks of the year.
About Toronto Waldorf School
Toronto Waldorf School is an independent school, founded in 1968. TWS is part of a global community of schools, where Waldorf teachers and child development professionals come together for the purpose of educating, supporting and inspiring children. With over 90 years of proven curriculum experience, there are nearly 2500 Waldorf schools and kindergartens in over 60 countries around the world.
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