Social Media, Digital Media and Real Life

My (almost) 11 month old is insanely drawn to my iPhone. If it’s sitting anywhere in the house within her reach she goes for it. We decided long before she was born we would never hand her our phone to entertain her, that we’d teach her it wasn’t hers. We even bought a play phone with buttons and sounds that enthusiastically say things like “hi baby” and “good morning” so that we could hand it to her and say, “no baby that’s not your phone, this is your phone.”

Our purpose was mostly so she wouldn’t grab a friend or family member’s phone, end up breaking it, and then we’re out $400+ buying a new one. Still, there was a small part of me that really thought we could curtail her addiction to screened objects. But still, she always goes for our phones, always.

I really started trying to figure out why, and it didn’t take me long. Our lives are inundated with screens, iPads, TVs, computers, etc. I’m not complaining and I’m not saying it’s wrong, but what I am trying to point out is our codependency. I’ve noticed that even while working at home or watching Issa I make sure my phone is within arms reach. And it’s not in case someone calls. It’s so I can check Facebook, or Instagram, or scroll through pinterest. I’ve noticed myself reaching for my phone and clicking that little blue F icon during lulls in conversation with my husband, or during commercials on hulu, times we used to talk. It’s as if I can not be not entertained. I must fill my life. And as Issa becomes more and more self sufficient and better and better at self playing I find myself reaching for my phone or ipad to fill my life’s dead air time. My daughter sees that. And there’s something really, really awful about this.

It’s because it’s neglect.

Yep, I said it, neglect.

I’m neglecting play/teaching time with my child, or sporadic conversation with my husband, which as I recall, before smartphones, often spurred some of our most interesting discussions. I’m neglecting those natural human interaction moments with my most cherished loved ones to see what is happening on a news feed with someone I don’t even know. I’ve noticed myself just reading Facebook statuses without even acknowledging who wrote them. It’s become filler. And I’m about done.

I’m not saying I’m giving up social media or digital media all together. They’re great. They keep me connected to family and friends far away. There’s lots of good stuff there. But I’ve decided I want to be more intentional. More intentional about what I’m doing during my down time, even if it’s just for a few moments. More intentional about the time I spend with my family. More intentional about when I’m surfing digital media. More connected to those who are physically present in my life.

It’s hard, it’s a habit, picking up that phone when there’s nothing particularly exciting going on. I do it without even realizing it. But the thing that keeps me going on breaking the addition is the idea that one day I might be completely zoned into scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest while Issa self plays and I’ll miss her first steps. Or that we might be missing some sort of bonding or connection or that she might develop slower in some area because of the digital wall I have between us.

So no more wall. No more filler. I must be intentional. I refuse to miss things, miss real life.

After doing a little research I found this fantastic infographic that really shows how we as a country are spending our time.

screen-fiends

Twelve hours? If the average person gets at least 8 hours of sleep that leaves 4 hours a day of non screen time. That’s it. And that’s sad. I don’t want to be that average person and I’ve started doing my best not to be.

 

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3 Comments

  1. bridgette February 7, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Some things are inevitable I suppose. We can, however, find those spaces. Some things are easier. It is easier to bus your child to school, or let someone else pick them up. But these are often those “special times.” Moving all of the family computers into one room, was a genius move by my husband who worked at home at the time. This gave him an opportunity to monitor the computer time and interact.

    I too have been caught flipping through facebook. It is amazing how quickly time can pass doing this. It is eaten up for what? To see someones rant about a relative, or dog video? I’d like to be able to turn off my phone and have this message come onto the notifications of text and phone.
    “you have reached my cell phone. Your message is important to me. Please leave it here, but note I am spending time with real people face to face or I am driving and absolutely cannot pick up the phone at this time because I don’t want to die.”

    • Chris February 11, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      I’d LOVE something like that on my phone!

  2. Tanya February 11, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    I have felt exactly this way as well,which is why we have made phone rules in our house. I try and set a daily limit of online or on phone a day and try and make most of that time nap time or after the kids bedtime. My oldest could care less about my phone or our ipad and would rather be outside exploring whether it be -15c or extremely hot. I have to drag him in the house which is great because his love of the outdoors is infectious and rubs off on me. I tend to spend summer days outside chasing him around and we all play games together. My little guy can work an ipad like a pro at 22 months old. I try and see this two ways. 1 I limit his screen time to a few short segments through the day so he falls in love with play and the real world. 2 he is learning so much by having this technology(his apps are all educational), so I try and see the positives of his love of technology. I dont want my kids to grow up and spend their extra time with their face in a screen, so I am hoping to get them interested in life. We do as many family outings a week as we can squeeze in and the kids love family time. We skate, hike, go to the park, visit local farms, movie nights, cook together, play games together. As the boys grow and we can do more and more with them I see less and less of us being housebound and more out and about in the world. It scares me how disconnected some people are with real human interaction, so I am hoping to instil a love of that into both my little men.