This winter break was not wisely spent. Sure, we enjoyed an amazing ski day at Copper Mountain, a few decent movies and a number of superb meals with friends, but we also lost significant time to technology. To whit:
- My daughter’s extended time on the iPad over winter break resulted in zero recreational reading.
- My addiction to Farm Heroes meant no blog writing and less exercising.
- My wife’s decision to rewatch almost the entire series of Six Feet under on HBOGo lasted for days.
When, with the restart of school, our daughter’s teachers told us she was having trouble focusing on simple assignments, it was clear to us that something needed to change. So, in the spirit of a New Year’s cleanse (minus the grapefruit), we have agreed to go (mostly) cold turkey with our tech.
Away went the iPad. Gone were the video breaks on school nights. Bye-bye to post-dinner, prime-time email binges. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not one of those families that sits around watching separate screens during suppertime, but our mutual addiction to Netflix and HBOGo had us well along the path in that very direction.
When I was a child, my parents strictly forbid television on week nights, but now, there are so many alternative forms of distraction, that a simple ban on the boob tube won’t cut it. So we’ve put in place some sensible limits to usage, especially in the evening before bed. The results so far: a far less irritable child, much improved dinner conversations, and more time spent reading.
Our tech hiatus coincided with my reading The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, by EdD. Steiner-Adair Catherine and Teresa H. Barker, as part of the “One School / One Book” program at the Ricks Center. Based on a combination of current psychological research and the clinical experience of Steiner-Adair, The Big Disconnect is hard-hitting, pointing the finger at everyone – parents and children – for the emerging crisis of disconnected family life.
I highly recommend it, and after poring over the rather startling stories of tech gone wrong, you too may find yourself contemplating a break. It’s certainly reinforced our desire to regulate our need to text and type and to stay present with each other while together as a family. I’ll report back after a few months to let you know how this experiment worked out.