Screen-Free Week sounds like a splendid idea until parents ponder the specifics. Wait, will I actually be able to get through a meal?
Pause. Take a breath. Consider this: Woodland Park Zoo neighbor Phinney Market Pub & Eatery and local toy company Fort Boards have joined forces to help parents and their offspring manage a technology-free dinner.
During 2016’s Screen-Free Week (May 2-8), Phinney Market will provide each table a $25 Fort Boards gift card if your young diner puts away the phone, tablet and all other electronic devices for the entire meal.
At each table, there will be a small stack of gift cards. “It’s up to the parent to decide if the child lived up to his or her end of the bargain and gets the card,” says Neal Mizushima of Fort Boards. “If people take the cards without putting their phones away well, they have to live with themselves.”
Mizushima, a parent himself, knows how difficult it is to create a single rule about putting away screens and hopes this event just gets families talking: “We hope this is more about spawning the conversation: 'If you want to put away the device for the meal, here’s a $25 gift card for you at the end of the meal.'”
So what to talk about instead? Make this meal out the perfect time to talk tech:
- Screen-Free Week, now an annual international celebration, started in 1994 as TV-Turnoff Week.
- The first public call on a cellphone occurred on April 3, 1973 — a mere 43 years ago.
- Maybe iEverything feels natural today, but the iPhone debuted less than 10 years ago (June 29, 2007). The iPad launched three years later.
- In 2006, the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary added the verb “Google” to their respective line-ups.
But what do I do instead?
If the idea of an entire week (168 hours!) of avoiding technology awakens your inner anxiety monster, here are a few ideas to make 2016’s Screen-Free Week a win-win for your family:
At a restaurant
- Break out the pen and paper (or napkin!) and play a round of Dots and Boxes.
- Pack a handful of trivia cards (or make your own) for a little pre-food quizzing.
- Got a question? How about 20 of 'em. Play this tried-and-true game.
- Make a shoebox activity kit, or build a box city. (This is best for small boxes but if you've got some larger models, fill your backyard with a box-topia.)
- Construct a backyard ninja warrior obstacle course.
- Pretend it’s 1975 and play Ghost-in-the Graveyard, or ask your kids to teach you their favorite recess game. My fourth grader currently loves Fishy in the Water and Deadman.