BIDDEFORD — A typical day might easily unfold in the following way: After breakfast, you take your daughter to the pediatrician. During the 20-minute wait, a television screen programmed to a “health channel” (a thinly disguised infomercial hawking pharmaceuticals) fills the waiting room with sounds and images that draw your child’s attention away from the toys and books that used to capture her imagination at these visits.

A phone call arrives from your sister, who is on a business trip and calling to check in while she has breakfast in her hotel’s common space. You begin to share some news. “Sorry, I can’t hear you!” she shouts. “The TV is on so loud here. I’ll call you later.”

The pediatrician recommends a blood draw, so you head to the lab’s waiting room, where you and your daughter try to work on homework as “The Price is Right” blares on one screen and “The View” on another. After dropping her off at school, you stop to fill up the gas tank while you endure “pump screens” with ads for Chevy, Alibaba and gas cards.

You scurry to work, where you spend most of the day staring at a computer screen. After work, you force yourself to the gym, looking forward to the endorphin release. But Fox News is on one TV and MSNBC on the other. Your treadmill run turns into a cable news battle.

On the way home, you stop at your local pharmacy for a prescription. As you wait in line, a kind woman surrounded by a loving family and accompanied by soothing music – all on a television screen – implores you to “ask your doctor” about a new drug that may add an extra boost to your current depression medicine. Your spouse calls from the car-repair shop to let you know he’ll be home late. “I’m standing outside in the cold while I wait,” he reports. “It was either ‘Full House’ reruns or ‘Dr. Phil,’ and I couldn’t bear either one.”

May 1-7 is “Screen-Free Week,” endorsed by dozens of organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Association of Waldorf Schools. The focus is largely on parents, who are encouraged to remove smartphones, iPads, computers, automobile DVD players and televisions from their kids’ environment. Children are in their formative years, and screen time undermines their intellectual development.

Going screen-free for a week is an excellent idea, and not just for our children. I count myself among the many adults who spend more time on screens than they ever could have imagined.

What the emphasis on personal screen use misses, however, is the ubiquitous public screen presence polluting our daily lives. At least when we use our own electronics, we choose the content. We can control what our families consume. Not so with the public screens. Not only do they intrude into our space without our permission, but they are almost always trying to sell us something.

The “screenification” of American public space is a lamentable and dangerous development that appears to have gone largely unnoticed amid the debate about personal electronics. It has essentially eliminated the quiet public space where children could play and read with their families, where a customer could decompress at the end of a workday, where strangers might actually strike up a conversation.

A room devoid of projected images and sounds appears unfamiliar and no doubt uncomfortable to those who have grown to expect a screen in every room. What’s more, it’s an invasion of our senses’ privacy. We all abide by unwritten social rules when we share public space – be respectful of others, don’t cause undue disorder, don’t disrupt others when it’s clear they want to be left alone. Public screens violate all of these. They intrude, uninvited, on our ears, our eyes, our brains and our sense of peace.

And we can’t ask them to stop. Believe me, I’ve tried. I regularly embarrass my children by asking management to turn off the public screen. The individual at hand – the doctor’s receptionist, the hotel breakfast server – usually responds with “we’re not allowed to do that,” or “there’s no way to turn it off.” So the unwanted violator of social rules stays in the room, wreaking havoc on our control over our experience.

Screen-Free Week should encourage us all to separate ourselves from our devices. And it should also pressure the managers of public spaces to remove screens from our publicly shared environments. Let us return our public spaces – restaurants, lobbies, airports, hospitals and even schools – to quiet spaces where we, the people inhabiting these spaces, determine what enters our experience, be it a book, a conversation or a delicious moment of silence.