My job has me in front of a screen much of the day, more so now that two huge projects and a year-end report are coming due. At home, I find that I am also spending much time in front of screens. I would hate to see the results of a time-on-screen study of my days. I am going to combat this in several ways. I have been reading paper books on the subway to school and back on days when I am not too tired.
My current book, Talking Back to Facebook by James P. Steyer, has served to reinforce the feeling that I am too screen-bound. My phone is often out, and after my blog post, I often spend an hour or so noodling around on the Web. That time can easily be put to better use. Even when I decide to watch a movie or show, I can be stretching, but really I want to be doing work in my office or reading a book rather than giving myself more screen time.
What am I modeling for my kids with my screen time? “Parents often can drive kids crazy with their lack of genuine attention,” write Steyer, the founder of Common Sense Media. At his house, all family members use digital media, but there are times when it is banned. Dinner is one of those times, and that strikes a chord with me. My family dinners when I was growing up were a time of conversation and discussion. The Oxford English Dictionary was probably the only media accepted at the table on a regular basis. I had no idea how rare a regular sit-down family dinner was until I talked to my peers in college.
I will follow this lead and leave my phone elsewhere during dinner and other meals I eat with my children. I think I will also do this when I am engaged in playing with them. Unless I am expecting a call, I really don’t need to get the phone or respond to texts if I am focused on my kids. After all, if I want their attention and they choose to only half focus on me, I will know where this behavior originated.