A couple weeks ago we woke up and started our day as we do many days. I got the kids breakfast and then hurried to the computer to try and answer some emails while the kids were occupied. I got distracted, as I do more often then not, and wound up mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. My oldest finished eating and ran into the room "Can we watch Home??" Her little sister followed "I wanna watch a Booooov".
"No - we're not watching TV today- you don't need TV first thing in the morning when you wake up"
My husband looked at me "a little hypocritical don't you think? They see you start your day in front of a screen and they want to do the same".
Ouch. I immediately hated how right he was.
I hate how I feel a slave to the computer / my phone more then I don't.
I pride myself that my kids don't own a tablet. They don't know how to run a computer or play video games and it makes my heart happy. But at the end of the day - what kind of example am I setting? Where are my boundaries? Why must they be 'unplugged' while I'm constantly 'plugged in'? We all know damn well 'do as I say not as I do' simply doesn't work.
I wrote that top blurb about a year and a half ago. Much has changed since then, but some things have stayed the same. My oldest is now 6.5 and she uses the computer and has a play-station. I enjoy having a 'big kid' who is now at a stage where she enjoys those things. I remember how much I LOVED Nintendo when I was in elementary. I had a Pocahontas computer game that was the most exciting thing in the world!! It's fun to be nostalgic as she turns on her video-game! But we've also reached that inevitable point where if she's not watching TV or playing on a screen then she's complaining that she's bored.
We will be at the park and she will be complaining that she wants to go home, she's bored. I get so frustrated with her - but is that really fair of me? There are MANY days when I spend too much time on my computer or mindlessly scrolling through my phone and then get annoyed with the kids that they have had too much screen time.
It's pretty trendy to bash social media and screens these days. I do see, and feel, that it can be addictive. But I can't help but ponder the why. I think it's formed, to a certain extent, out of necessity.
Humans are social beings. For many, many, many moons we lived in community with one another, looking out and helping one another. But our culture has shifted to individual homes with doors we regularly lock to keep others out. We have created a fetish for privacy and placed independence on a pedestal far higher than community. We continue to create a life of separation from our fellow people and watch our anxiety and depression rates rise. I imagine social media has formed, and taken off, to fill the void of social beings being shifted towards a culture of isolation. And just like community living wasn't flawless, neither is social media.
Looking back to the park scenario- many times when we go to the park it's just us and a handful of toddlers while the big kids are silently reading in their classrooms. Sure being outside is good for the soul, but when there's no one to engage with - it can be lonely - and ultimately - boring. This past Sunday I was stuck in the house ripping my hair out in boredom - I was itching to go somewhere. Monday a friend came over. I was in the same 'boring' space - but having a peer to engage with made all the difference! I was happy staying put and didn't have that OMG will this day ever end?? feeling. Sunday was full of screens and void of people. Monday was the opposite.
I try to remind myself of this and offer myself, and my children, some grace when we've had too much screen time, while simultaneously trying to foster an environment that is more focused on community.