Modeled after TV-Turnoff Week, PC-Turnoff Week runs Aug. 1 through Aug. 7 and is meant to raise awareness of the hazards of excessive computer use in the home.
Child-health experts are increasingly pointing to computers, along with televisions, as the culprits behind a national obesity epidemic among children. They also worry about the effect long hours at the computer may have on kids' social skills, grades and general well-being.
"There really need to be some limits set," said Joe Acunzo, co-founder of the PC-Turnoff Organization, the group behind the event, and father of a teenage "instant-messaging addict."
Questions about how much is too much come as children devote more time to electronic media than ever. Kids between the ages of eight and 18 spend an average of nearly 6.5 hours each day, or 44.5 hours each week, using computers, watching television and playing video games, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study. The study, released in March, also indicates kids are spending an hour more each day with video games and computers than they did five years ago.
So far, National PC-Turnoff Week lacks the resources and visibility of its television counterpart, the 11th annual incarnation of which starts Monday. National TV-Turnoff Week also calls for families to abstain from video games and the Internet. Eight million people are expected to participate.
Acunzo intends to establish the PC-Turnoff Organization as a nonprofit and fund the effort with donations.
But there's a business tie-in too. Acunzo and his business partner, Mark Sicignano, have long careers as software developers and now sell a software program called ComputerTime that's designed to help parents limit children's computer use. The program is available for download through their Web site for $39.95.