Saturday, Jan. 26, marks the beginning of Unplug and Play week, where families are encouraged to turn off their screens and tune in to numerous real world activities.
This annual campaign, organized by the Literacy Alliance of the Shuswap Society (LASS), coincides with Family Literacy Week. As in past years, there are Unplug and Play activities occurring daily until Feb. 2 throughout the Shuswap. They include a magic show with the always entertaining Leif David in Enderby at the M.V. Beattie Gym (6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29), a dance and drum party with Kristian Power at the South Shuswap library (3 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 30); a makerspace with Uncle Chris the Clown at Parkview Elementary in Sicamous (5:30 to 7:15 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 31), bowling, free for kids under 18, at Lakeside Bowling in Salmon Arm (3 to 5 p.m., Friday, Feb. 1), and Salmon Arm SYSA Family Footy soccer at the SASCU Indoor Sports Complex (1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2).
All of these free events are geared towards bringing families together to try out different experiences and have fun in the process. And all of them are doable without a Smartphone, tablet or any other electronic doodad.
There is, of course, an underlying seriousness to this effort, spurred by numerous studies and reports involving kids and screen time. The first long-term study on how screen time affects children’s brains, conducted by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, shows more than two hours a day can be detrimental. The study, involving 11,000 children, showed a minimum of two hours of exposure to any type of screen resulted in lower scores on language and thinking tests. Brain scans of children exposed to seven hours or more of screen time daily showed premature thinning of the cortex. And then there are all the health issues that come with sedentary lifestyle.
All the more reason to power down, grab the kids and get out and play.
Editor’s note: The Under the Lights Family Snowshoe Night at Little Mountain Sports Fields scheduled for Monday, Jan. 28 has been cancelled due to lack of snow.