I'm a hypocrite, its true. It is hard to admit that and I certainly won't admit that to my children, because once they figure it out, all authority to limit their screen time will be moot. I'll be reduced to hiding their devices to curb their screen time and instead <gasp> I'll have to spend time with them. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a very loud hard place.
I don't let my children use their devices during the school week and they have time limits on how much they can play video games, watch TV and play with their iPods or Chromebooks. Talk about spoiled children...well, that's the subject of another blog and a lifetime of disappointment for them once the realize life isn't fair and making a living in today's world is super hard...they have no idea how lucky they are. When I was their age, the closest electronic device I had to what they now enjoy was a black and white, 13 inch TV! Yes, I'm bitter!
But why am I am hypocrite? I have a problem. I need AA meetings for people who rely too much on technology and not enough on human contact (eww...people are squishy!!) To be fair, most much some a small fraction of my screen time use is productive, so I can't just stop! How would I know how my favorite sports team is doing or what celebrity gave birth to a child and named it Corkscrew, or what is going on in politics (this is the most important election of our lifetime...again) or when I have a doctor's appointment (oh, that one is productive!)
To be fair, most much some a small fraction of my screen time use is productive, so I can't just stop! How would I know how my favorite sports team is doing or what celebrity gave birth to a child and named it Corkscrew...
Science tells us that using our devices too much is bad for our health, but since when was that a deterrent. People still smoke, drink too much, drive their cars too fast and have unprotected sex, so why would we listen when doctors and researchers tell us to put our phones down! I want to listen, I do. I stopped smoking almost 20 years ago and I rarely drink, though I probably drive too fast and I have 5 children, so you win some, you lose some. What is so bad about spending hours and hours on our devices? I shouldn't have asked:
Lowers concentration - this is even more pronounced in students causing a 20% reduction in performance
FOMO - again, this is more pronounced in children particularly with the use of social media
Reduces memory - I don't buy it. I have a memory like a...like one of those things that does the thing...you know
Warps view of reality - another casualty of social media...we tend to compare our lives to the lives of our friends who, somehow, are always on fucking vacation
Makes sleep difficult - hard to sleep if you don't put your phone down, not to mention it delays the sleep hormone, melatonin, from being released due to the brightness of the back light
Increases stress and anxiety - like it wasn't bad enough with a worldwide pandemic, an election year, economic devastation, climate change, marriage, children, mortgage payments...now we have to get stressed out by our damn phones?
Damage to your eyes - I already can't see close to me or far away so old age has this one covered
Damage to personal relationships - you mean blowing off my wife to finish that article on the mating habits of the three toed sloth is bad for my relationship?
Phones are teaming with bacteria - like covid-19? AHHHH!
Text neck - I don't even need to explain this one...you know
Text claw - see above
Driving and walking are now dangerous - more than 14% of traffic accidents are caused by texting and driving and people are literally dying doing nothing more than going for a walk
This is just a short list. I would have added more but researching the misery my phone is causing was causing more stress and anxiety! Very counterproductive. All this begs the question, how much is too much? For children, the prevailing research says no more than one hour a day. Every parent reading this just spit out their drink all over their device and is now frantically
searching for something to dry it off lest they lose out on a few minutes of screen time. Steve Jobs, the man responsible for the iPhone and iPad wouldn't let his children use them. Makes you wonder what he knew that he didn't tell us. Not only him, if you want to be scared away from ever using social media again, I recommend watching The Social Dilemma on Netflix where engineers from Facebook, Twitter, Instragram and others talk about the behind the scenes of these companies and the devious nature of the algorithms that dictate what we consume. The documentarian asked them at the end of the movie, during the credits, if they let their kids use social media and they all said no rather definitively.
Social media use and device usage are sort of different issues, though it is our devices that lead to unchecked social media usage. As you can see by the list above, social media is dangerous all by itself, but the added portability of our devices make it all the more damaging and therefore, it is hard to separate the two. So again, I am left to wonder, how much is too much? The answer is, no one really knows and most studies focus on the health of children, not adults, probably because all of the researchers are spending hours every day on their devices and they either don't have enough time to study this issue or they just don't want to know the answer. I don't want to know, but when I look at the past few weeks of screen time from my iPhone, I'm pretty sure I'm using it too much!
My iPad screen time is much lower though!
Taken in isolation, my iPad screen time is pretty good, until you add it to my iPhone screen time and I end up with a daily average of 10h 57m, 10h 15m and 10h 56m respectively over the last three weeks. I watch a lot of videos on YouTube (mostly politics and people falling off skateboards) and I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Twitter (I hate Facebook and Twitter is full of the worst humans on earth) and lastly, I have been playing a lot of Sudoku lately (this one is good for my brain at least).
I have a problem, obviously, and I need an intervention. My bigger problem is figuring out a way to spare my children from the side effects of device usage while teaching them good habits. My solution? A 'Do as I say, not as I do' parenting method. This works, right?
Of course, as parents, our job is to protect our children from the dangers of the world and to give them the tools to succeed. Yes, that includes electronics in the 21st century, but as with everything, there can be too much of a good thing. By teaching our kids responsibility and limiting their access to danger, we hope that when they are old enough to make their own decisions, they will make the right ones. Once they are adults, they will be able to use devices to their heart's content whether it is bad for them or not. That is the weight of personal responsibility that we all share. You may deduce by the extreme amount of time I spend on my devices that I was not raised well, but give my mother some slack. When I was a kid, the best we had was Pac Man and the only way we could really abuse devices was by going to the arcade and at least then, we socialized. So mom, I forgive you for not giving me the tools I need to break my hopeless addition to electronics.
All is not lost for me. I am aware that I have a problem and that is the first step in fixing it. To be honest, I'm not trying yet. I am a bit of a political junkie (junkie is the perfect word to describe the damage today's political environment is doing to my soul) so until the election and the post election civil war is over, I will remain glued to my screen. After that, I will research ways to break my addiction by using my devices to search for help with my addition to my devices...cold turkey it is!
Normally, I would post some links to resources where you can learn more, but in an effort to counter my growing hypocrisy, I am leaving this out so you can spend some time with your family by putting your device DOWN, but not until you like, share and subscribe to my blog!
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