by Dean Witherspoon   Dean's profile on LinkedIn  

One of the more popular activities we’ve added to our recent wellness campaigns is cutting back or eliminating nonwork screen time. Participants echo the same theme in hundreds of evaluations: It was really hard at first, but once it became habit I found I had so much more time to do other things… Thank you! I love my evenings again. It’s as if they needed our permission to turn off their phones or tablets at home.

Excessive screen time (TV, video/online gaming, mobile) has been tied to slower metabolism, increased obesity, higher cholesterol, and reduced creativity in kids and adults. A successful campaign to get your clients to tune out for a week may be the best health promotion you can offer the whole year. Some ideas:

  • Pull the Plug Campaign. Hand out buttons that say “I Pulled the Plug” along with a flier that explains the benefits and gives a list of things to do instead of watching TV. Encourage participants to wear the buttons to work that week.
  • How I Survived a Week Without TV, Internet, and Mobile Apps Essay Contest. Ask employees to write an essay (250 or fewer words) on the creative things they did instead.
  • Family Night Out. Solicit discounts to local recreation, cultural, or sporting events in celebration of Screen-Free Week.
  • Lunch at the Improv. Hire local comedians to do a noontime standup routine in the cafeteria or auditorium in honor of Screen-Free Week. If that’s too risky for your organization’s culture, try a jazz band or other entertainment. 
  • Books R Us. Invite local used or new book merchants onsite to sell books for reading during Screen-Free Week. Ask for a discount in exchange for the free space and advertising.
  • Hobbies, Hobbies, Hobbies. Feature new vendors each day to demonstrate hobbies to replace watching TV or playing online games.
  • Volunteering Seminar. Invite representatives from local volunteer agencies to discuss opportunities at a lunch-time seminar.

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