Exercise more.Eat a cleaner diet.
Go to bed earlier.
Save more money.
Be on time.
Purge more often.
Do these sound familiar? The tried and true sincere (if not long-lasting) attempts for self improvement at the beginning of a new year. Otherwise known as the requisite New Year's Resolution. Some of us make them and keep them. More of us do NOT. But, if there is anything worth while in the coming year for me to attempt for self-improvement, I have decided, it is to UN-PLUG, DE-DEVICE, however you want to call it.... (ironic, right, as I sit at my computer, writing).
We use our devices to call, to text, to email, to check FB, to check the weather, to check the news, to confirm carpools, babysitters, and dinner dates. We use our devices to keep calendars, to take pictures or videos, to play games, to play music. We use our devices to DO so much throughout the day, yet are we focusing our time and attention to the wrong types of connections? While these devices may seem to keep us more on track, more connected, more organized, and engaged with the greater world around us....I am convinced they are DIS-connecting us to our more important, inner world. This inner world surrounds our relationships with our spouses, children, closest friends, and family.
Admittedly, I am guilty of reaching for my iPhone to read a NYT article, when I could be reading more to my children. I have grabbed it to check email when I could be listening more closely to my husband. I have scrolled through Facebook instead of playing a game with my little ones. Do I spend all day on my device? Absolutely not, but there are snippets of time throughout the day that involve a legitimate text with a carpool parent, for example, that leads to a check for a breaking news story or FB post. I have concluded that the aggregate of these snippets of time add up to a significant erosion of quality family time. Sure, they provide mini-'escapes' from the menial/tedious tasks of keeping house, raising kids. But, before we know it, these fighting, melting down, driving-Mommy-crazy-at-times, little ones will soon be grown and living in a far-away city, and we will be wishing we had cherished every moment with them even more.
Meanwhile, as parents, we recognize the frustration and concern for our children having too much "screen time"...from the most basic of TV watching, to the video games, to the texting and emailing as they get older. We have read that too much screen time can lead to ADD issues, concentration/behavioral problems. It seems obvious that we are setting our children up for failure since the low-sensorial processes of reading, writing, and math, the pillars of education, cannot possibly compete with the bells-and-whistles-stimulation these devices provide. I often hear adults ask, "Why can't children go outside and play more like we did when we were kids?" Yet, frankly, are they not just mimicking what they see us doing throughout our days? Device, device, device, and more device-ing.
For this reason alone, I long ago stopped (for the most part) using my iPad in front of them, simply because I was tired of them constantly asking to play on it. Similarly, I have decided to take on the challenge of de-devicing altogether. When we are at home, I am literally checking my device at the door (charging stand in our mudroom). My apologies, Steve Jobs, you are not welcome in other rooms of the house.
I am certain, this perspective could be perceived as anti-Jetson, anti-technology, anti-American, even. To be clear, I am not suggesting a total rejection of our technological luxuries....Rather, I am simply advocating an everything-in-moderation approach to our devices. Ok, ok, easier said than done. I know it will be a challenge for me to resist the urge for more information, more news, more interesting articles to read.
So, in the coming new year, I hope the exile of all the little snippets of 'screen-time', will make more room for...
More listeningMore reading
More sea-glass hunting
More bike riding
More fireplace snuggling
More dance parties
More board games
More chess games
More card games
Less device time, more family time. Less device time, more-food-for-the-soul time. Simply stated, but will it be easy to keep to this resolution? Probably not, but it is worth a try.