What is Screen-Free Week?
Screen-Free Week (https://www.screenfree.org/) is an annual invitation to play, explore, and rediscover the joys of life beyond staring at various screens throughout your day. During the first week of May, thousands of families, schools, and communities around the world will put down their entertainment screens for seven days of fun, connection, and discovery.
Even though it’s about turning off screens, Screen-Free Week isn’t about going without – it’s about what else you can get. An hour once dedicated to YouTube becomes an hour spent outside; ten minutes whiled away on social media turn into ten minutes spent doodling; a movie on a rainy afternoon is replaced by time spent reading, chatting, or physical activity.
You can celebrate Screen-Free Week at home, at work, in your school, in your community, or anywhere – just put down those screens and do literally anything else! You might be surprised at what you find.
Strictly speaking, Screen-Free Week is based more around your own personal time as opposed to minimising screen exposure at work and it doesn’t mean you can use this as an excuse not to do your homework or your job. However, if you’re a teacher or boss, you can help everyone by encouraging pupils/staff to reduce the amount of screen-based work you assign. We think you should do exactly that!
Benefits of Screen-Free Week
These days, many of us have jobs that require us to stare at computer screens for hours at a time. This can put a real strain on your eyes.
Eye problems caused by computer use fall under the category: ‘computer vision syndrome’ (CVS). It isn’t one specific problem. Instead, it includes a whole range of eye strain and discomfort. Research shows that between 50% and 90% of people who work at a computer screen have at least some symptoms.
Working adults aren’t the only ones affected. Children who stare at tablets or use computers during the day at school can have issues, too, especially if the lighting isn’t great or their posture is bad.
CVS is similar to carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive motion injuries you might get at work. It happens because your eyes follow the same path over and over. And it can get worse the longer you continue the movement. To make things worse, unlike a book or piece of paper, the screen adds contrast, flicker, and glare. What’s more, it is proven that we blink far less frequently when using a computer, which causes the eyes to dry out and blur your vision periodically while working.
Working at a screen doesn’t just have a negative impact on your eyes either. As mentioned above, we know that sitting at a desk/screen for hours on end has an adverse impact on your posture and can lead to all sorts of problems ranging from back pain (either spinal or muscular) through to problems with the hips and legs due to a lack of blood flow.
So, what’s the solution?
Fear not, however! If your job does involve working off a screen or you’re partial to a bit of late-night YouTube before bed, there are workarounds, at least for now… Before Elon Musk has his Neuralink (https://neuralink.com/) chips implanted into all of our brains so that we’re constantly plugged into his new version of Twitter (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-61225355) , whatever that may be (it could turn out to be a good thing)!
What are these non-screen-based workarounds if your someone who works predominantly from a computer or laptop? Depending on your job there could be many, you just need to be a bit more creative. For instance, this article was written by hand in a notepad using a biro pen and only typed-up after. If you work in graphic design, why not go old-fashioned and sketch up your designs with a pencil before you digitalise them? If you work in a sales role, stop sending your leads boring emails and pick up the bloody phone!!! Or better still, meet them face-to-face and have a coffee and expense the lot! If you work in marketing or technology, you know that project you’ve been putting off all year? Yeah, that one. Gather your teammates and huddle around the white board and storyboard it. Heck, get some sarnies in for the gang while you’re at it! If you’re partial to a bit of YouTube before bed in the evening, pick up a book or listen to a podcast.
Let’s all give Screen-Free Week a go this May and realise the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, both in and out of work. We may not be able to go without those pesky screens entirely but if we have a go at lessening our time spent staring at them, you never know, we’ll certainly alleviate some of the associated negatives of screens but, we may yet discover a better, more productive, healthier and even happier way of working!
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