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.
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.