Screen Time: The Place to ‘Connect’?

It crept up ever so slowly and imperceptibly. I wasn’t even aware of it. I limit the amount of time my children spend on it…

But, I’ve realised I spend A LOT of time in front of a computer screen. I work from home and am self-employed so my hours are flexible. What this means is there are many hours in the day from dawn to dusk that I can spend staring at a screen.

And because I have a notebook I can also wander around the house with it, sit in a cafe or even go to the beach with it! I’ve noticed my partner and I stare at our computer screens a lot more than we gaze at each other!

I have strong held beliefs that my children shouldn’t watch too much TV; that it will impede their learning ability and stifle their creativity. And yet here I am staring at a computer screen for a large part of each day. I give myself a smug little pat on the back for watching next to no T.V. But really, a screen is a screen, right?

If I don’t run it through my values I easily justify it, telling myself it’s work, it’s informative, it’s keeping up with what’s going on in the world. Heck, it’s even socialising. Isn’t it?

Recently I was sitting in a member’s lounge at an airport and realised that pretty much everyone, was staring at a screen of some description and there was very little human interaction.

medium_silentfamilies

I read a fantastic blog post a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I can’t recall the name of it (but here’s a link to a similar article) or where I saw it but it was by a woman who was having an ironic poke at herself for being a bad mother because everyone in her house stared at a computer screen for a large portion of each day. She had a funny photo showing her on her laptop computer, one of her children watching TV, the other playing a Gameboy, and yet another sitting at a desktop computer. All absorbed in digital land, with no human interaction.

It’s an interesting phenomenon isn’t it. TV has been the long-standing interaction killer but it seems this is increasingly being taken over by computers. Especially now that social media and online dating are part of the 21st century landscape.

And I notice more and more, the most innovative, hipsters of the digital world getting a name for going offline. It’s like these trailblazers of the online world are now getting a name as the trailblazers that teach how to get OFF-line. Ironic.

 

Gwen Bell refers to this as a “digital sabbatical”. I’m not sure if she coined this phrase. I also noticed Justin Wright using the term. Both pretty cool, adventurous sorts. In marketing speak… Innovators.

I just searched ‘digital sabbatical’ online to see who else is using this term and came across Tammy Strobel’s blog ‘Rowdy Kittens’. She writes about downsizing and living more sustainably. It’s an interesting blog about how less is more in the happiness stakes. Check it out for some interesting reading.

She too discusses the phenomenon of screen time. She quotes The Chartered Institute for IT which explains that the internet is appealing to so many because in provides

“an indirect, enabling and empowering role leading to a greater sense of freedom and control which in turn leads to greater life satisfaction.”

She also quotes Business Week who note that…

“scrolling through e-mail and punching out text messages fire up the dopamine-reward system, unleashing a pleasure-inducing hit that for an estimated 6% of Internet users has become clinically addictive.” 

Ouch, something to watch out for. So when is enough, enough?

After these couple of quotes she mentions that she too has committed to taking a digital sabbatical in order to get away from all the distractions and get her book finished. She also talks about unplugging and spending time in the ‘real world’.

So what do you think? Most of us with children limit the amount of time our children spend staring at a screen… Yet we spend most of our day staring at a screen of some description. Think about it. How much time do you spend looking at TV, a computer or your phone?

It’s largely due to computing and telecommunications apparently making life easier but is it at the cost of ‘real life’ and ‘real human interaction’?… Is it a case of social or anti-social media?

What do you think?

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10 thoughts on “Screen Time: The Place to ‘Connect’?

  1. Hey Leonie,

    You should read a book called ‘The Winter of My Disconnect’. Its the story of a mum who’s a journalist from Perth with 3 kids, and decided to ‘detox’ the house of ALL technology for 6 months. Fascinating! xx

  2. Great post and I so agree with it. Sometimes I just shake my head at my kids. When we are watching a show on TV, my son always brings his laptop to the living room, the other one can’t leave her phone for fear a text will be missed and the other one would sooner be playing Webknizs on the desktop.

    As for myself, I have been trying to get away from the computer more – it is a great feeling, once the withdrawals pass.

    It is a crazy world we live in. 🙂

    1. That’s funny Candace. Thanks for sharing your experience. I guess it’s a part of life and a choice not to be chosen some of the time 🙂 Technology is the opposite of progress in many ways.

  3. Great post and I so agree with it. Sometimes I just shake my head at my kids. When we are watching a show on TV, my son always brings his laptop to the living room, the other one can’t leave her phone for fear a text will be missed and the other one would sooner be playing Webknizs on the desktop.

    As for myself, I have been trying to get away from the computer more – it is a great feeling, once the withdrawals pass.

    It is a crazy world we live in. 🙂

  4. i am so grateful my kids grew up before computers replace family time with each on his own device not talking to one another time. Great post. I saw that article, the one which you shared the photo of the family sitting together but not being part of each others’ world. I see that so often. I think that disconnect hurts all of us and ultimately the world.

  5. I spent my teenage years living in East Africa without TV, computers or any such thing. I can honestly say it was an amazing time spent with friends. I would spend my afternoons sailing and read, When I look back on that time I can see that a lot of it was so much fun because we didn’t have the gadgets of today. We bonded firm friendships, many still existing. I still long for that quiet and I feel a lot of valuable time is wasted in front of the TV or computer. I have to say though that if I was to choose between the TV and computer, I would keep the computer as it does have a sociable element to it. One thing I have noticed is that when I have a computer, TV free day I seem to have so much more time to get things done or to enjoy reading and walking etc.

    1. That sounds like a great childhood Kama. We did have TV when I was growing up but it was limited. We played cards a lot. I have happy memories of that and am grateful for my card playing abilities…Except that I’m a very sore loser… And an obnoxious winner!!

  6. Oh, the irony. Yes I can just see you wandering around the house with your notebook! lol…. I agree that we rely way to much on electrical stuff, but I also acknowledge that I have developed some wonderful deep relationships as a result of social media. The paradox continues….

    1. Yes it is a paradox. That’s exactly the word for it… I love that social media offers the ability to meet like minds from all over the globe. It’s the next best thing to travelling… But at the same time it’s easy to forget the present, here and now of face time with family and special people. Balance, balance, balance.

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