Editor’s note: This post is part of our Pulling the Plug series!
We monitor our son’s screen time carefully because my husband and I are big believers that too much time in front of a TV, or on the laptop or tablet, is like fast food for the brain. It dulls creativity. It promotes zombie-like inactivity.
For him, at least.
While I try to tune out on the weekends if work isn’t demanding my attention, I am consistently attached at the hip to technology from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day during the week. Mostly, it comes from being an overachieving control freak about my job. And about my need to interact in real time with my blog readers and followers on social media. (I’m a fiction writer in my spare time, and if a reader takes the time out of her busy schedule to connect with me, I feel obligated to respond quickly.)
But I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes my attachment to my iPhone and my laptop keeps me from being fully present for my family in the evenings and mornings. Unlike a lot of great moms out there, I am never at my best when I’m multitasking. I can’t give my son the advice he’s asking for, or respond to his story about his day at school, when I’m simultaneously reading a work email. I can’t give him a hug when my hands are busy texting or posting. I can’t help him “super-style” his crazy hair in the mornings when I’m checking my mentions on Twitter or viewing a video my boss sent me. And I can’t tell you how many times he’s reminded me that I agreed to something that I can’t remember agreeing to — because I was splitting my attention between him and a screen.
I need a change.
So for the next six weeks, I’m going to try to set some limits for myself, literally pulling the plug. Television’s not really a problem for me (unless you count Nashville on Wednesday nights or HGTV on Sundays), but I’m going to try to not check email or social media before 8 a.m. and after 7 p.m. during the week, unless there is a true need to handle a crisis or deadline for my day job.
There will be no taking the iPhone with me when I lie next to my son as he reads to me before bed and drifts off to sleep. (Yes, I do that. I can only get so excited about Magic Treehouse stories. *Hangs head in shame.*) And there will be no checking Facebook or Pinterest or my blog comments or work email one more time as I settle in for my bedtime, either.
After all, it’s just six weeks. Wish me luck. Just be sure to do it after 8 a.m. or I won’t respond.
Probably. (I mean, I wouldn’t want you to think I didn’t appreciate it or I wasn’t on top of things, right?)
This may be harder than I thought.
Do you set screen time limits for yourself? Tell us how you stay connected without being “connected.” No, really, we could use some tips here … .