Spruce View School students and their families embraced Screen-Free Week and turned off their computers, televisions and cellphones for five days this week.
It was an opportunity to examine the frequent use of electronics for entertainment purposes and encourage students to choose other ways to spend their time.
Students at the Kindergarten to Grade 12 school kept track of what they did in log books they could submit to win prizes.
Computers were still allowed for school work, depending on the class.
Jeanette Greenough, Healthy Schools, Healthy Future facilitator for Spruce View School, said studies show the use of electronic media has skyrocketed in recent years.
“Adolescents average 134 minutes per day of TV, 40 minutes of video and 34 minutes of computer gaming. That’s an average,” Greenough said. It impacts social development, health and sense of community, said Greenough, who is also a Grade 1 teacher.
“I think a week is a reasonable amount of time to get a true sense of what the options are for them instead of spending time in front of a screen.”
Not only did the students agree to shun electronics, so did most of their families.
“Ninety per cent said, ‘Yes, our whole family will do it.’ Others have said let us know how we can support you, how can we help. That’s really exciting.
“I think it sparks a lot of discussion and that’s our hope — to raise awareness.”
It was the first Screen-Free Week for Spruce View School and was based on Screen-Free Week developed by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in the United States.
Greenough, who has two children, said it’s been a refreshing experience for her family.
“Doing some planning ahead was really helpful for us so that we can be successful. You can’t just say all of a sudden: there’s no TV, no video games. You need to have a plan and the kids are enjoying it.”
She said her children, age seven and nine, were a little hesitant at the beginning of the week. But by Wednesday, they were choosing to go outside and play.
They’ve taken to calling their mom “Screen-Free Week boss” and as such they made sure she stayed away from screens in the house.
“The kids are definitely holding me accountable.”