The day this summer that my son jumped in front of the computer with his arms flailing back and forth, chanting “Noooooo, don’t get back on the computer, Mom!,” was a sad, sad day for me, but also a huge wake-up call. As someone who prides herself on being somewhat detached from technology in general, and who wants to set a good example for her children, I was initially defensive. I reassured my son that I certainly do NOT spend very much time on the computer and that he must be imagining things. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I have started to spend more and more time on the computer, and much of this time is spent during my children’s waking hours. Whether it is typing up agendas for the moms’ group, making back-to-school appointments and purchases online, researching hotels for a family vacation, or simply responding to emails from people who are relying on my prompt response, I find that the screen time required of me has increased greatly over the past couple of years. Here are a few of the things that I have done since my wake-up-call about 6 weeks ago:
1) I did feel that it was necessary to explain to my 9 year-old son that the time that I spend on the computer looks very different from the time that he spends on the computer, which is on the weekends when he gets to play a game for one hour. My computer time is mostly spent doing work and responding to emails, I explained to him, and sometimes I cannot avoid doing this work during the day.
2) In order to reduce daytime screen time, I leave my mindless computer tasks until after the kids have gone to bed, saving the tasks that require me to actually think for during the day when I am (somewhat) alert.
3) I have re-evaluated the time that I spend on the computer and have tried to cut out tasks that end up being a waste of time. For example, as convenient as it would be to buy my shoes online, my personal experience is that I spend a long time looking for the right pair, only to walk away from the purchase at the last minute because I worry that they won’t fit properly. Another example for me would be trip-planning – I can (and have) wasted hours online, searching for great deals on flights, hotels, and rental cars. In reality, I can cut out a lot of this time if I have a good conversation with my husband first. We can plan a lot of the trip by talking through the details, eliminating many options and pin-pointing exactly what we are looking for, rather than having me sit in front of a computer screen trying to make all of these decisions on my own.
4) When possible, I pick up the phone and call someone. Oftentimes, email is the most effective form of communication, but there are times when a phone call is appropriate and I think that there is something better about my kids seeing me on the phone than on the computer. That could just be me, though.
These are a few of the steps that I have taken over the past couple of months, and my goal is to continue to reduce my computer time. Have you found that the screen time required of you has increased in recent years? If so, how do you manage your computer time so that it fits in with your family life?
Many blessings to you on this Monday morning. Mary, virgin Most Prudent, pray for us!