I screen, you screen
I screen, you screen
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop
Every day I catch the train to and from work, joining hundreds of people in crossing the city. Mostly I pass the time by scrolling blankly through social media feeds on my phone. Almost everyone in the carriage is either checking out their phone or using it to listen to music. Then they disembark, a sea of commuters moving in waves into the streets. Incredibly, some still attempt to walk and cross roads without looking up from their phones. That’s madness, right? Almost as bad as the way I attempt to be an effective parent while my nose is in my phone.

I heard the other day that the average mobile phone user looks at their phone 150 times a day. It’s the tiny mobile refrigerator of life, and we’re all teens checking to see if it has been stocked with something- no, ANYTHING- edible. Mostly, it just stares back, though.

Now that my kids are getting older, when we’re not out at the beach or somewhere else, we’ll be at home on our phones and laptops. Great swathes of time can pass as we bask in the glow from the screens. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing, but I guess we know we’re overdoing it when an attempt at getting them to bath is met with sadness that our devices aren’t waterproof.

150 times a day. Wow. Imagine what could be done with that time. If you could harness the amount of energy it takes to pick up a phone and browse 150 times, Eskom’s woes would be over.

What made me panic is the thought that I could look up one day and they’ll all be grown up. Am I really choosing to spend more time liking funny posts on Facebook than sharing their childhood?

They’re not allowed to watch TV on week nights- mainly for the reason that we’d struggle to ascend the mountains of homework and hygiene-related tasks if they were stuck in front of the TV, but this seems hypocritical of me- after all, I’m urging them to get things done while I have an eye on my phone.

I use my phones to take photos, play games, check the time, and browse the internet for the weather/places to go/recipes. I “hang out” with friends on Twitter and watch videos on Youtube. It’s like having a life in that little warm box. Only it’s not quite the same as running down a forest path or painting a picture.

Time for a screen-free weekend, I think. Will I be able to go cold turkey? Will I be patting my pockets 150 times a day and then remembering that the phone is put away in a drawer? Maybe, but I don’t want to spend more time with my phone than I do with my kids.

The only screen I should be using on weekends should be sunscreen, right?

This is strictly my experience- I’m sure all of you are great at balancing screen time with whatever you do that doesn’t involve a screen (I forget what that is!) so no judging going on here.

I need help, though- please give me some ideas for what to do with children that doesn’t involve a screen!

Send us your ideas to chatback@parent24.com and you could win a R250 kalahari.com voucher.

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