Muslims and Television Series: Part 1 I Part 2 I Part3 I Part 4 I Part 5

Update: Screen-Free Week for 2012 in April 30th-May 6

Muslimatters.org is proud to endorse the Commercial-free childhood Screen-Free week.

Screen-Free Week is almost here! On April 18-24, children, families, schools, and communities around the country will turn off entertainment screen media (TV, video games, computer games, apps, etc.) and turn on life.  It's a chance to unplug and read, play, daydream, create, explore nature, and spend more time with family and friends.

Since 1996, millions of children and their families have participated in Screen-Free Week (formerly TV-Turnoff). Each year, thousands of parents, teachers, PTA members, librarians, scoutmasters, and clergy organize Screen-Free Weeks in their communities.  This year, Screen-Free celebrations are being planned around the country, including Long Island, NY, where the Early Years Institute is working with local merchants and community organizations to provide wonderful screen-free activities for children and families for free or at discounted prices.

Santa Rosa, CA, where the Hidden Valley Elementary School Student Government has challenged its students to see which class can come up with the greatest number of screen-free activities.  Please let us know what you have planned for Screen-Free Week by registering your event here.   Click here to find a listing of Screen-Free Week celebrations around the country.  And if you're on Facebook, please become a fan of Screen-Free Week to share your plans for the week and exchange strategies for limiting screen time.

If you haven't started planning for Screen-Free Week, there's still time to start. It's not hard and lots of fun.  Our 2011 Organizer's Kit includes step-by-step organizing instructions, handouts, suggestions for screen-free activities, and tips for reducing screen time all year round.  The kit also comes with two beautiful posters for promoting Screen-Free Week in your school or community.  In addition to your printed booklet and posters, we'll send you an electronic version of the guide so you can start planning your screen-free fun right away.  Organizer's Kits, posters, and Screen-Free Week t-shirts can be purchased here.

Screen-Free Week is endorsed by seventy leading health, education, and childcare organizations including the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Public Health Association, the National Head Start Association, KaBOOM!, the US Play Coalition, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Center to Prevent Childhood Obesity, and the Parent Teacher Associations of Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, and Missouri and MuslimMatters.

Here are more tips from Linn of education.com on making Screen-Free week a great experience for your family:

  • Decide what screen-free means for your fam­ily. Does it include email and text messaging? Are you still going to Skype with family members in another state or country? Will the older kids have homework to do on a computer? There's no 'right' way to do this, but make sure that you're all clear about what your commitment will be.
  • Make plans together for the week.
  • Include friends, relatives and neighbors in what you are doing, even if for just one day or evening. Get together with other families at a park, play or­ganized games or just hang out.
  • Set a calendar of activities and events for the week. One goal of Screen-Free Week is to allow kids unstructured time to generate their own screen-free play and activities. But, especially if this is your first time participating as a family, you'll want to make sure that you are not left twid­dling your thumbs. It is most important to schedule some family activities in the early part of the week so that everyone can adjust to being screen-free.
  • Don't forget to assess life without screens for a week with your child. Make a chart for each day of the week and list the activities that took place. What was her favorite thing that she did during Screen-Free Week? Click here for 30 more activities.

*Muslim-specific Suggested Activities

  • Ramadan is only 3 months away – Use this week off from TV/video games to prepare your family for Ramadan.
  • Memorize some ayaat or surahs together as a family.
  • Take them to the masjid for asr salah instead of the after-school cartoons.
  • Visit a new masjid in your city.
  • Visit an elder in the community.

Here's to a great Screen-Free Week! Insha'Allah -our readers will make a commitment to give the TV the boot or at least decrease screen time for their children and themselves.  We will be posting several television-related posts in the coming week: from a Muslim mom on why her family is unplugging, a Muslim mom on how she survives without a TV in her house, and to a post about televangelism. Stay tuned!

11 Responses

    • Yasir

      agree……..We as a family quit the TV four years ago and alhamduLIllah it is a blessing…….As for computer i removed my desktop and shelved it and have my laptop under tight control only nasheeds and some informative videos for my kids………Parents have to sacrifice and spend more time with kids…..it is because of the lack of effort on the part of parents that kids indulge into watching TV or playing games…….There is no easy solution to anything in life it takes an effort and sacrifice, STRIVING and I ask ALLAH(SWT) to make us steadfast on good, Ameen

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  1. Cartoon M

    I would love to unplug, but my college lectures are online =[.

    I guess I’ll quit video games. Don’t play much anymore anyway.

    so does this mean no MM articles for the week?

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    • Hena Zuberi

      No inshaAllah -we will be posting regular articles- Screen free week isn’t about killing all media- it is about realizing how much time we spent in front of a screen, be it TV, facebook, emails, computers, cellphones and deciding what is absolutely necessary in our lives and what isn’t. Families who aren’t TV free can use this week as an experiment to see what life would be like if we weren’t parked in front of a TV or computer for 5 hours.

      I plan on going to the park with the kids, visiting a Muslim elder in our senior center, makiing cards for their grandparents and making one BIG change stay tuned!

      Also it is easier to make a lifestyle change when your whole school or neighborhood or masjid is participating too. And this movement should be worldwide-somethings are worse abroad. It is so horrid to see friends going out to dinner together at a restaurant but instead of talking to each other they are texting other people! or not having any rating for TV/movies- something that is very common in the US.

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  2. Zaufishan

    As-salam`alaikum,

    Great piece on “switching off”, masha’Allah. All the more reason to keep a controlled hand on our virtual lives.

    FYI: @MuslimMatters got a shout out on Luton’s Inspire FM Arts & Culture Radio Show – during our http://www.Muslimness.com interview about Muslims in the media, blogging and virtual creativity. Read more here and listen in again this Wednesday::
    http://www.muslimness.com/2011/04/listen-in-to-muslimness-interview-on.html

    Wasalam`alaikum!
    Z.

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    • HenaZuberi

      Jazak illah khair- for the shoutout on the radio show- I am sneaking in during screenfree week to thank you :) Muslimness, it meant that much. Love that every thing is max in the US- we do have two bloggers from the UK on the MM team.

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  3. Lasantha Pethiyagoda

    Like Islamic banking, which has very noble “human” qualities about profit motive and fairness, if we can wean our children away from commercial TV in developed societies (ie where the ‘marketing’ efforts are most prevalent) we would be doing one of the best services for future generations, as we encourage creativity, independent thought, and good human qualities that commercial TV tends to destroy, where shrewd marketers saturate young minds with very carefully manipulated methods to enslave them in consumerism (not to mention many corrupt concepts that destroy the innocence of childhood) and surreptitiously indoctrinate them in various “globalised” themes that are virtually impossible to shed once inculcated. It is far more beneficial for children to sit with their parents and perhaps religious elders more often and learn about how to live with honourable principles when they grow up. Media in all its forms have some excellent programs and resource bases also, but responsible adults must show children how to access and use them in their entertainment and learning.

    Lasantha Pethiyagoda

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