International Screen-Free Week starts today and Gisborne families are being encouraged to think about taking a break from technology.
Head Librarian Pene Walsh says: “Over 20,000 Gisborne people can’t be wrong. The members of HB Williams Memorial Library have increased their book borrowing by 20% over the same time last year. Surely that must mean their screen-time has shrunk by 20%.
Even though it is easier than ever to goggle at the telly, google on the computer, txt and tweet, fiddle about on Facebook or game the night away, when you add all that time up I reckon you’d be amazed and maybe feel there is a teeny bit more to life.
In our house all screentime is counted together so we choose and when time’s up, it is up.
Just ask Councillor Manu Caddie’s whanau – they have agreed to stop watching TV or going on the internet in the evenings – good on them, why don’t we join him for Screenfree week and try some ‘faceface’ time and visit one of our 200 friends or even try a bit of ‘bookbook’ time – yep, actually read one!
I for one will be reading several of the 120 children’s books entered in the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards and getting off my backside to visit my old neglected friend – yoga.”
Father of two and Gisborne District Councillor Manu Caddie said his family had recently put away the TV permanently and this week were having a break from the internet at home and it may stay that way.
“Most Kiwi families have television at home now, some screens are really dominant – both in the sheer physical size and the time its on all hours of the day and night.
Our kids love using the computer but some of the stuff is so compelling they forget about playing outside. We live in paradise and I want to make sure the kids get to enjoy their environment, use their imagination to create and not be completely sucked in by multinational corporations forcing brands down their throats.”
Screen-Free Week (www.screenfree.org) is an international project of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and this year runs from 30 April to 6 May. Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, librarians, youth workers and clergy organise Screen-Free Weeks in their communities.
New Zealand research has found links between watching too much TV in childhood and later problems, including obesity, high cholesterol, poor fitness, smoking, short attention span, poor concentration – and lower rates of school and university qualifications.
One of the researchers, Dr Bob Hancox, said the educational effects of television viewing could not be explained by intelligence or socio-economic factors.
“It’s not just that children with little natural ability decided to watch more television. Children of all levels of intelligence did worse if they watched a lot of television.
“Similarly, the association between watching television and poor achievement was not because heavy television viewers had poor socio-economic backgrounds.
“There is extraordinarily strong evidence now that [screen] media have a major impact on children and adolescents. It’s not surprising because they spend many hours a day with media, of which television is the most important.”