“Does Game Boy count as screen time Mom?!” or “What about my Giga Pet?” It’s a really small screen!” I remember the days when my brother and I were restricted by my parents for how much “screen time” we could have in one day. Back then, it was two hours. This was before the time of cell phones, so it was “easier” then. But anytime we watched television, played Game Boy (yes, it counted), or even fed my little dog on the virtual handheld “Giga Pet,” screen time was enforced. I remember it being such a drag. “I just want to finish watching my show Mom!” was a common sentence heard at my house. Or from my brother “but I was watching History Channel! It’s educational!” It didn’t matter. Screen time was screen time.
Now, I don’t even want to imagine how much time I am looking at a screen. No wonder I’m slowly becoming far-sighted and need glasses for the first time in my life! Between my computer, my iPhone, my netbook, television, and all of the times someone is showing me “something cool” on their devices, screens are all around me, pretty much all the time. I know I’m not alone in this. So where should it stop?
I, for one, used to be the old-fashioned one who didn’t want all of the technology. And I guess a part of that side of me still remains. I told my parents when I was updating my phone last year that “I don’t want a smartphone. I want my phone to be my phone, and I want to use my computer for my computer stuff. I want to use my iPod for my music, and that’s that!”…And look at me now. I have my Facebook, Twitter, CUMail, and WordPress all linked to my iPhone. Not to mention that if for some reason I’d like to have my phone remind me to do something, or find me directions, or just entertain me, I can simply employ Siri. Geesh. I feel like a hypocrite. So all of this noise. All of this virtual mush is taking up my days, and what do I do about it? That’s a hard question to answer. I wish I did more.
In reading Pico Iyer’s article about quieting the noise, I was forced to re-examine how connected I am. Ironic of course that I ponder this via my blog, but regardless, it’s an important question. It’s probably not a good sign that I have to think about how many times a day I am further than 2 feet from my iPhone. Here’s what I came up with:
1. When I’m at practice.
2. When I’m in the bathroom. (I’ve heard too many times that people dropped their phones in the toilet, and gotten invited to too many “lost my phone, need numbers!!!!” groups on Facebook….so I avoid this.)
3. When I go to church.
4. When I do yoga.
5. When I go and sit by the water. [Immediate problem though: I’m in Nebraska. So this method of disconnecting only is able to happen when I’m at home, right next to the ocean. Sigh.]
But here is what I have realized. When I go to church, I come out in the best mood ever. Without fail. Church is my time to unwind, focus, pray, and connect with God instead of a screen. But when I look at my phone, I’ll have at least 3 emails, 4 text messages, and 5 Facebook notifications to attend to. Not to mention the 219 new tweets that have been sent in the hour I have been away. And when I do yoga is not a fair thing to say – I just started it to get away from the noise and relax. Boy did it feel good. Downward dog, anyone?
So needless to say, I have more work to do. Quiet isn’t something I necessarily do well. But as my days go by faster and faster, with more screens taking up my eyes’ energy, I should probably find more times in my day to disconnect and, I don’t know, live the glory days of pre-screen?!