Published in the April 21, 2017 edition

This is the first of a series promoting the annual Healthy Melrose fair to be held Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Middle School athletic complex.

MELROSE — According to Kara Showers of the Health Department’s Mass in Motion program, it is time to go screen-free for a week.

May 1-7, 2017 is Screen-Free week, when children, families — whole schools and communities—will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen. Plan to unplug from digital entertainment and spend all that free time playing, daydreaming, creating, exploring and connecting with family and friends. (

The reality is that we all are spending way too much time in front of screens – let’s look at our kids: an average of 32 hours a week for preschoolers, and more than 50 hours for older kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under 2 and less than 2 hours per day for older kids.

We all know that a lot of screen time is bad for children. Just how bad, you ask? Toddler screen time is linked with reduced physical activity and higher BMI. For children of all ages, time spent in front of screens is associated with childhood obesity. In fact, children with a television in their bedrooms are more likely to be overweight and report less physical activity than children without televisions in their bedrooms.

The good news is that reducing screen time can help prevent childhood obesity and lead to better school performance. Screen-free week is a fun and easy way to help all of us reduce our dependence on television, video games, computers and handheld devices.

Turning off screens frees up time each day for fun activities you can do as a family, such as reading, playing outside, creating crafts of art, pretend play and cooking.

Get tips and resources and meet local businesses dedicated to health at Healthy Melrose 2017, Saturday, May 13, 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Melrose Middle School athletic complex.