Just last week my son told me a story of a mom who smashed her son’s iPhone with a hammer.
I smirked in response and envisioned myself doing the same. I have to admit that the use of screens has only made parenting all the more challenging.
I have let my children engage in more than enough time self-entertaining in front of a screen so I can get sh*t done.
So here we are in this digital era where children are addicted to their screens and we are stuck between wanting to smash their devices but also depending on them for so many aspects of our lives—we use technology for just about everything.
I’ve had countless discussions with other parents on this topic, and I cannot seem to wrap my head around any of the cold, hard facts.
Are we ashamed of our level of screen dependence or do we really believe that it is a good use of time?
I can only speak for myself and my experience of how digital submersion has affected the well-being of my children.
What started out as a fairly occasional habit has turned into the literal “moth to a flame” behavior. What began as innocently “educational” has turned into “mindless and offensive” garbage.
Where is the line and how do we draw it so we can maintain our healthy relationships with our children and live harmoniously in a digital world?
I am lucky to have been born before the digital era, so I can remember how it felt before we were flooded with the all too intoxicating stimulation from the internet. I can remember the endless time I had as a kid to lie in the grass and look up into the distant galaxy of infinite stars.
Some of the most treasured things that anchor me in life originate from when I had nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was just me, the tree, and the honeybee.
I had hours to send little leaf boats down the cool and ever-winding river and look underneath rocks for answers to the questions I had.
I spent hours skating across the smooth surface of the ice on my neighbor’s pond and lay face down with my nose to the coldness, wondering just how thick and far down below the frozen parts went and what the fish and bugs were doing below.
Those moments of being suspended in nature’s arms—those cherished memories—have become who I am.
Recently, just after sunset, I noticed the golden glow framing the dense, green jungle. The amazing backdrop sent me into a peaceful and calming place, and all I could think about was my son at home who was missing out on this natural, yet simple wonder.
I was saddened by all the sunsets he may miss in his life because technology is so damn addicting.
I decided that it was only up to me to take action, while I still have the time, and offer my children the skills needed to create a healthy boundary for technology use.
I know that once they are out in the world on their own, they will have to make their own choices as to how to spend their free time.
We took a solid week off from the entertaining aspect of digital use just to see what would happen. I adjusted my work hours so I was more readily available for my kids.
When we stopped screen use, there was an outpour of repressed emotions, depression, anxiety, irritation, and fear.
I can only hypothesize that all that stimulation puts a halt to the natural development and rhythm of emotional progress that children need in order to become grounded, confident, and happy adults.
After the minor crisis surfaced, here is what I noticed:
>> More connection
>> More contribution
>> More peacefulness and less anxiety
>> More interaction, laughter, and relating.
So, before we get out the hammer and smash all the devices in the house, maybe just a step back would be a more effective, wise, and less expensive solution.
I refer to some of Waylon’s wisdom regarding screen time when he says, “Technology is good, as long as we use it mindfully as a tool and not let it use us.”
Life is about balance, and when we regularly check in with ourselves, we’re able to notice if we’ve gotten off-kilter and need to get outside, breathe, and appreciate the abundance all around us.