Take a Screen Break
By Patti Hermes – Parent to Parent –
It seems like we're always connected, always online, the internet constantly at our fingertips. For those of you with smart phones, little computers in your pocket, it's true. You are always connected, but what exactly are you connected to?
Back when the car phone went from being a plug-in model that required a special antenna installation, to the cell phone that your could literally attach to your hip, some people worried about bringing their work home. Because that is exactly what the cell phone was all about, work, work, work and being available to your boss all the time.
Then the internet went from being confined to your desk top with wires and slow dial-up speeds to portable wi-fi. Now you could carry around a bulky laptop and log on both at home and work (and further connecting the two). Still, it was confined to places where you at least had to sit down and be near a hot spot when not in the office (or home office). It was still pretty easy to regulate your screen time around family routines.
Now it's everywhere. Even if you don't have a smart phone (some of us are still resisting!) there are any number of devices in your household that demand to be connected all the time. And we've come to expect this constant connection rather quickly and some are even surprised when you meet someone who's bucking the system by not carrying around their own personal internet connection.
What is this “always on” lifestyle doing to our families? Even vacations can't be without it. Just try to find a hotel that doesn't have wi-fi, and you'll find yourself camping on the side of a mountain (where you may or may not have cell phone service).
Always being connected means you're always available to someone else, not necessarily the people you spend your time with. While you make breakfast for your children, are you tethered to the national news of the day? Do you have half your brain focused on a conversation with a friend across town while your spouse fills you in on their bad day? Are you composing angry rants on Facebook while your children scream “Watch me!” as they play in the pool?
Since it's not going to be turned off for you, it's up to you, the parents, to not only regulate yourselves, but your children as well. Try taking a break from all screen activity for a week, even two, before school starts up again. Use your phone only for actual phone calls, including answering texts with voice (won't your friends be surprised to actually hear your voice!) and get outside in nature and listen to the sounds of the outdoors and the voices of your family, in face to face conversations.
If a day of no screen time is more than you can handle, then try making out a schedule, blocking out some Family Time every single day. Give yourself some time each day to simply not be available to the outside world. Demonstrate to your kids that even in our media-saturated culture outside influences do not control us. We are in control, and as parents we must exercise that control.