Are you constantly checking your phone? Looking at your likes and comments? Checking the news or the weather? Did you pick your phone up to check the time but got distracted by something else and had to pick it up again? I’m sure 9/10 of us are guilty of all of these things.
As I look around at restaurants, malls, parks, schools, even family events, we are all glued to our screens. Honestly, 90s babies like myself grew up with technology and were part of its evolution throughout the years so it’s hard to put down especially with a copious amount of information at our fingertips. However, our addiction to social media and “Googling” things is also effecting our children.
I vowed to make one day a month in our home technology-free.
Have you seen the memes where a kid asks an adult if they have games on their phones? Or memes about parents letting their child watch YouTube so they can get things done? I mean there’s a 9 year old boy making millions of dollars a year, just because our kids watch his YouTube videos! I guess for him it’s a win but maybe for us and our kids it’s a loss.
Our addiction to our phones has ruined and shortened our attention spans, it’s crippled our ability to have actual conversations with people outside of our screens, most individuals can’t even spell or articulate themselves without spell-check, and most importantly it’s taken away valuable time from our lives.
I have a two-year-old and a 4 month old, I will admit that I allow my toddler to watch YouTube so that I can get things done such as grocery shopping, cleaning, hell sometimes even eating! It’s a distraction for her and gives me a moment of relief. Do I feel guilty? Yes! But she’s happy and learns a lot from the few mins of YouTube she’s watched. She’s learned Spanish, Hindi, even some Mandarin!
Now, I can see the perspectives from both sides: Technology is only becoming more advanced as the years pass and it’s beneficial for our children to learn how to operate it at an early age, not to mention the amount of information they absorb and how much knowledge they gain from it. However, technology is pulling us away from our families and kids and keeping us glued to screens all day, it’s effecting our mental and physical health, distorting our views of real-life, and teaching our children that it’s okay to be social media zombies.
Am I pro-technology? Honestly, I’m in the middle of this ongoing debate. I agree that we are addicted to our phones, looking at memes, mindlessly scrolling through the same four apps, and staring at a screen all day. But, I also know that these little devices we hold in our hands connect us to people we can’t see everyday, it gives us all the information we could possibly ask for, teaches us anything we want to know, enlightens us as in to what’s going on in the world around us and even gives us new recipes to try! It’s hard to pick a side.
What I will say is that logging off is the best decision you will ever make. My husband and I decided that one day out of every month we won’t touch our phones, when he gets home from work we both put our phones away and focus on each other and our daughters. I came to the realization that Anaís asks to be on my phone often because I’m always on my phone, also, she loves watching videos about Mario and listening to songs in various languages. Parenting is more “monkey see, monkey do” than our children listening to what we tell them, we lead by examples and actions not by words.
Logging off will help you recharge both physically and mentally because you aren’t staring at a bright screen all day, your neck isn’t stuck in one position, you will be aware of your surroundings when you’re crossing the street, and you’re actually present with your family and friends, not just physically there. I’m not saying the internet is ruining us, although there are quite a few downsides, what I am saying is it won’t hurt to put your phone down and pay attention to those around you, maybe you can purchase a new book (in a store, not on Amazon) and you can sit side-by-side with your spouse or your child and read for an hour everyday, maybe even get a crossword puzzle and do those to keep your mind engaged, pick up a new hobby, go explore your own backyard, just log off.
But wait, don’t you blog? What if social media and the internet is my profession? What if I work from home? Ever heard the saying, “there’s a time and place for everything,”? That’s the motto I live by. I don’t blog while I’m with my daughters, I wait until they are asleep and my posts are written at night, which is also why I have been inconsistent with my blogging lately because I have been trying to find a work-life balance. Find your balance, create a schedule, work around your kids and your parenting duties, if that means waking up before they do or staying awake after they are asleep, then so be it.
I want my daughters to understand the concept of technology and how powerful it is, I want them to know it’s important and how to use it to their advantage. But, I also want my girls to have the ability to conversate with someone face-to-face and not be glued to their screens, I want them to learn how to write in script and not just use the font. I vowed to make one day a month in our home technology-free and I’m sticking to it, in-fact I may be increasing the time, and wandering out to our local Barnes and Nobles with my girls more often. I don’t want my daughters to be glued to their phone screens, I want them to be present and pay attention. I want to spend as much time with them as I can and if it means I have to log off, then I will.
Is it hard? Yes! Have I been cutting down Anaís’ YouTube time? Yes! Do I feel great about it? Oh yes! Honestly, Anaís hasn’t been asking for my phone anymore and if I do give it to her for whatever reason, after a few minutes she gets bored, puts it down and walks away. I won’t lie, it’s hard for me to walk away from my own phone, my husband is a cop, my mom lives cities away from me, my sister lives in another state, both of my parents are in their fifties, and I love scrolling through Pinterest, I constantly check my phone for these reasons. However, I gave each person a unique ringtone and leave my phone in our bedroom, if something is extremely important they will call.
Parents, step-parents, grandparents, anyone with kiddos looking up to them, log off. You don’t have to log off all the time, but schedule a day or time to do so and be present with those little humans who want to play. Go to the library, go outside for a walk in the park, create sensory bins, do things that are mentally stimulating for you both so that no one is even thinking about that phone. These moments are fleeting, don’t waste it looking at memes, everything on the internet is there forever, so it’ll be right there waiting for you when you log back on.
A mama who’s logging off.