Sunday, February 03, 2013

Five Screens, Three People

Here is a photo I took in March 2012 of my husband and two sons (aged 14 and 11) when we were living in the rental house. The scene horrified me. I had been sitting at my computer a few feet away doing my own thing. At the time this was taken my husband had just purchased his first Apple product, an iPad2 (which he uses mainly for work and has by his side 24/7). My sons were playing with their Kindle Fires, which were Christmas gifts. And my husband has his blackberry right there in case a text or email or a call came in. You can see they were sitting there supposedly watching a TV show together which I thought was a great idea. When I looked up from my PC I realized they were by each other's side but were doing their own things on all different screns and ignoring the television.

This was a weeknight.

At the time I'm writing this my sons still do not have use of their Kindle Fires but each has their own laptop which is used in a fixed place (in the kitchen/family room - connected rooms). My boys do not have smart phones or Internet on any portable device. My husband has upgraded to an iPhone5 after loving the iPad2 and suddenly realizing how inferior the Blackberry was. He was jealous of my iPhone4 and what I could do with it while we were on the road, using the map, using Urban Spoon and other useful apps while away from our home computers.

My concern now about Internet and my kids is not safety or that they will be stalked by pedophiles: it is that it is all consuming and they have trouble getting their academic work done. I also want quality family time not all solitary screen time happening on four or more screens at the same time with each of us. I want my kids to do things not just screen related, like read real books, read a paper magazine, play the guitar for fun, sketch, doodle and anything creative.

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