Listen, even my 19-month-old kid knows this one: screen time is not the same as face time. With an increasing amount of parents texting, tweeting, and surfing while their kids are looking to them for guidance (or just, you know, presence), the recent New York Times article "Your Brain on Computers" doesn't present a lot of surprising information. It does, however, reiterate what we know but don't want to admit to ourselves, namely:
We're using more and more technology.
We're allowing ourselves to parent with a certain amount of permanent, persuasive distraction.
It's making our kids unhappy.
According to Sherry Turkle, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Initiative on Technology and Self, "Over and over, kids raised the same three examples of feeling hurt and not wanting to show it when their mom or dad would be on their devices instead of paying attention to them: at meals, during pickup after either school or an extracurricular activity, and during sports events."
But there was one anecdote in the piece that made my heart sink a little in a good way, like when you cut up that credit card you should never have signed up for, or resist buying cookies at the grocery store, or decide to do any number of hard/ good for you things.
"Meredith Sinclair, a mother and blogger in Wilmette, Ill., said she had no idea how what she calls her "addiction to e-mail and social media Web sites" was bothering her children until she established an e-mail and Internet ban between 4 and 8 p.m., and her children responded with glee. "When I told them, my 12-year-old, Maxwell, was like, 'Yes!' " Ms. Sinclair said."
I hate to be all Oprah about this, but I think I just had an "Aha!" moment. I keep telling myself my little boy is too young to understand what I'm doing, or that I'm doing it for the right reasons but the truth is, it's time to change. Considering that my husband and I each sent a copy of this article to each other, I'm thinking it's time we had a technology ban in our house. I'm going to start with 7-8:30 in the morning and 5-8 on weeknights, and see what happens. Anyone out there want to join me? I have a feeling this might be a worthwhile venture.