A Week Without TV? Say What?!

To unplug? Or not to unplug?

April 18-24 marks Screen-Free Week, a national campaign to get families to unplug their electronic devices and spend more quality time together.

The seven-day stretch is described as a chance for children, parents, schools and communities to “turn off their televisions” and “turn on life,” according to the website. The goal is that families will reconnect and engage in other activities, such as reading books, using their imaginations, interacting with friends and talking to each other—rather than zoning out in front of a TV or computer.

But in this day and age, is it realistic to think anyone could go a whole week without these devices that have become so near and dear to our hearts?

Our Coronado Moms Council weighs in. Will they unplug—or not?

Tonia Accetta: Our household has never tuned out during this annual blackout TV week, as I have always felt that our kids here in Coronado are tuned into life already, having a healthy balance of indoor and outdoor play. The dates also coincide with the Easter break. It seems a bit mean to turn off TV when school is out. Plus we have to know who gets kicked off American Idol!

Morgan Benzian: My children aren’t school-aged yet, so it’s hard for me to imagine participating in the Screen-Free Week. We already don’t have television in our home, so there is very little screen time happening anyway. My 3-year-old does enjoy watching movies from time to time, which we use as part of a reward system. I also work from home as a freelance writer, so turning off my computer is not really an option. Perhaps when she is older and in school, we will participate in the Screen-Free Week. Our days are already filled with trips to the zoo, play dates at the park, and beach outings. I definitely see the benefit from the Screen-Free Week though, and I hope it gives many families the opportunity to reconnect with each other. 

Tam Dorow: I think Screen-Free Week is a good idea. We don’t watch TV regularly in my house, with the exception of the NCAA Basketball Finals, the Super Bowl, the World Series Finals, and the occasional major sporting event; making it very easy to go screen-free for a week, especially since none of these events will occur during the week of April 18-24. My children can watch TV, but only after school work, sports practices, reading, piano practice and walking the dog—with the understanding that TV and video game times should not exceed reading and piano times. Most of the TV we watch is recorded, so we can skip the commercials, getting more bang per viewing minute. However, we still honor the Screen-Free Week and abstain.  However, I would NOT support an Internet-Free Week. I couldn’t give up Pedro—my iPhone—for a week! Are you crazy?

Lynette Penn: The Screen-Free Week is a bit much (but thank goodness for the DVR) … Although, we do have screen-free vacations, camping trips and the like for our family, as well as a screen-free day for family day every week. When our kids were younger we would not turn on the television until 7 p.m. Again, a nice break from the tube. Now that they are older, I appreciate them wanting to stay in and watch a movie with us.  I enjoy the “movie night” with all their friends at our house, making popcorn and listening to their banter. This Screen-Free Week falls on our school district’s Spring Break … if the TV was off, would they want to spend any of that cherished break with us? I would hope so, but at their ages probably not so much.  I will be limiting the TV time during that week, but not eliminating it all together. As always, the content of what is being watched will be monitored … sometimes, those “family shows” are not so family friendly.  

Jan Spear: Screen-Free Week or National TV-Turnoff week impacts our escapism. Just a suggestion, how about limiting the amount of TV time per week, instead of totally tuning out? I wouldn’t want to miss a Tsunami warning. For us older moms, the days past of “Take Me Away, Calgon” are now nights filled with Modern Family, American Idol, and Dancing With The Stars. I don’t know about you, but, between my children’s school, homework and sports, there’s not a lot of time left for TV. So, if I need therapy time in front of the TV, and my children need a little screen time after the loads of homework, then I welcome the guilty pleasure.

Suzette Valle: When this concept was first introduced, it seemed rather easy to turn of the TV for a week. It was especially beneficial when our kids were small and their elementary school participated in this activity. However, in this day and age of 24/7 connectivity with a teenager in the house, being Screen-Free for a whole seven days sounds practically impossible! 

Portable devices have become an appendage to most of us (myself included). Cell phones, laptops, netbooks, and now mobile TV available on a variety of smart phones would make for a very difficult week without these devices.

So, will we be observing Screen-Free TV week in our household? In some ways, yes. But not entirely. We already watch very little TV, and our teenager watches it even less because of the inordinate amount of homework she has each night (including weekends), in addition to a school sport and other community service activities she’s involved in. Watching too much television hasn’t been an issue in our home for a long time. But, wrenching the phones out of our hands, closing the laptop and tuning out The Soup all at the same time is just not going to happen … at least not for me!

Meet our Moms:

Tonia Accetta is a British born, boarding-school educated, stay-at-home mom of a teenage boy and a preteen girl. She moved to Coronado in 2002 from Florida with her husband of 15 years looking for a better school system than Florida had to offer. Both children attend Coronado Unified Schools. She is currently on the Coronado Youth Softball board covering many positions (offers of help are always welcome!), and she is a co-leader and cookie mom for Girl Scout Troop 5039.

Morgan Benzian, a third-generation San Diegan, is a domestic goddess and stay-at-home mom to Emma and Annie. She first fell in love with Coronado Island in 1996, and then years later fell in love with a Coronado resident. Morgan, her husband, Whitney, and their two daughters enjoy looking at the aquarium inside Bay Books, lunching at the Yacht Club, picnics at Pomona Park, and bike rides around the island. She is a regular contributor for Coronado Patch. You can also read more of her work at thelittlehenhouse.com.

Tam Dorow emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. when she was 10 years old, and grew up in Lansing, MI. She has a B.S. in Engineering from Michigan State University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She worked at all Big 3 US car companies in Engineering and International Finance.  She was a management consultant and started a management consulting firm in Indiana. She’s been a stay-at-home mom for the last 10 years. She’s served on the board of directors for Village Elementary Parents And Teachers Together (PATT), is a past president of Coronado Youth Softball, and is a current member of the board of directors for Coronado Little League. She married her college sweetheart, two children, a dog, and a 21-year-old cat. 

Lynette Penn is a military wife and mother of three children, whose ages are 18, 21 and 24. She moved to Coronado in 2003 as a result of the school shooting at Santana High School. She was recognized by Time Warner Cable as one of San Diego’s “50 Best Moms” in 2006. Her kids have attended Coronado schools since their move to this wonderful place. Penn was a paramedic for 15 years and worked for a law enforcement agency as well. She stopped working in 2000 when her kids started high school, and her husband started to deploy regularly. But now she says, “I just recently started working part time to fill the void of stalking my children.” She told us her latest achievement is the fact all three of her children made it to age 18 without her changing her pro-life stance. 

Jan Spear is mother to two teenage boys whose education is a high priority. She is a longtime Coronado resident, and graduated with a B.A from UC San Diego, and later earned an A.S. in nursing at Grossmont College. She was a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for children in foster care until 2005. She volunteered for the Everyone-A-Reader program at Silver Strand Elementary School. She is a health-conscious, avid runner, and has a marathon under her belt. She participates in 5 and 10k runs and encourages her kids and husband to be fit!

Suzette Valle is a 20-year resident of Coronado. She graduated with a B.A. from the University of San Diego, and has an M.A. from Oxford University, England. After a career as an investment banker, she married and moved from high finance to high drama. She’s the mother of two teenagers, one at Purdue University, another at Coronado High School. She is bilingual and bicultural. She’s held many volunteer positions among various Coronado community organizations: vice-president of Coronado Youth Softball 2007-2010, director for the Islander Sports Foundation 2008-2010, and served on both the PTO 2006 and PTA 2005. She was recognized by Time Warner Cable as one of San Diego’s “50 Best Moms” in 2006, and has been part of the judging panel for the last four years. She blogs at MamarazziKnowsBest.com, and is a featured Hollyblogger at TheWrap.com, where she blogs about parenting in a celebrity-driven society. In 2010 she appeared on the Dr. Phil Show discussing Reality TV, and was a presenter at San Diego’s Head to Toe Women’s Expo speaking about Hollywood’s far-reaching influence on children’s daily lives and family values.


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