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.
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?