Screen-Free Week encourages families to swap screens for the outdoors


Written by Sophie Winter
Edited for online by Eliza Buzacott-Speer

It is day three of the annual Screen-Free Week and families, schools and communities are being encouraged to swap digital entertainment for the outdoors and active life beyond the screen.

In the technological era we now live in, staring at a screen of second nature to many of us.

But expert in children and the media Susan Hetherington says Screen-Free Week is about getting young people away from the screens and into the outdoors.

“The idea behind Screen-Free Week is that our children are just spending so many hours on screens,” she said.

“There are figures that show children are spending about eight hours a day, from very young, on a screen and often more than one screen at a time.”

Ms Hetherington says the recommended number of hours per day for children to spend looking at a screen, depending on the age, is no more than one or two.

Screen-Free Week is about getting young people away from the screens and into the outdoors.

Screen-Free Week is about getting young people away from the screens and into the outdoors.

She says young people are missing out on many other things because of this, in particular exercise.

“Basically [we are] trying to get young people to rediscover entertainment that doesn’t involve looking at a screen, so reality rather than virtual reality,” Ms Hetherington said.

She says up to 60 per cent of young people are starting to experience neck and back pain from spending too much time looking at computers, televisions and phones in unnatural positions.

Ms Hetherington says adults are also at fault and need to set a good example to their kids, as well as look after themselves.

“Part of this is also reminding adults that they have a duty to themselves but also as role models for their children,” she said.

“You can’t be saying ‘get off that computer, phone or iPad’ while you’re on the computer, phone or iPad.”