Screen Life – aka Our New Normal

Oh, the joys of technology.  Similar to the joys of children, actually… screen life is good to go most of the time with the occasional hiccup that can make things difficult.  But how about the mixture of the two? Sigh. That’s more of a conundrum.

With my previous step-kids (all under 30, mind you), there was the desktop computer – read: ONE. For three kids.  It was unplugged on Sunday night (often in an unceremonious manner) and stayed that way until Friday afternoon – unless a paper had to be typed (that usually required parental observation). The power cord only appeared after Friday’s homework was done OR the plan for doing homework was approved. Pretty simple, although, it seemed annoying at times. Yes, laptops appeared during the upper high school years for the two younger ones, BUT by then, habits were in place and/or some slight sense of maturity was available to them. They could actually focus and get their work/chores/expectations done before play time.  Phones were not yet the “be-all-end-all” of immediate access to everything that the computer could do.  Little did I know.

Fast forward – LESS THAN 10 YEARS LATER – wait, actually, only five. It is out of control, or it feels that way. There is no desktop computer. There is a laptop and/or an iPad – oh, wait, the term is now DEVICE – and yes, PORTABLE totally changes the ball game.  Now it has the potential to be active anywhere in the house – and possibly even outdoors!!  Now, the DEVICE has to be accessible all week long for school. Read: must be addressed on a daily basis. Kiddo, plug that in downstairs, please; no, not in your room, thank you. Because?

Yes, because the 11-year-old does not have the self-control to not be drawn in by it.  Moth to proverbial flame – and as parents, we must take the flame out of their hands, even physically sometimes.  Other times the flame is managed with parental controls (currently researching software that sets time limits on the device itself, on internet access, on games and content. Why didn’t I think of that?).  The cursed DEVICE has become one more item to track in a literal sense – and not to mention trying to track the stuff they are seeing on the crazy things. We have not crossed into phone mode yet – and frankly, we probably won’t anytime soon. 

Fortunately, in our household, my other half is a more active participant in the “Management of IT Land” process and is just as firm about taking a break and turning it off.  We are also keen on him being a kid for a little bit longer.  I acknowledge that this is his – and every other child’s – future, but truly, society must find a balance.  Our propensity towards the “Screen Life” is frightening.  I am guilty too. 

So, for those snuggling little ones that don’t know how to say DEVICE yet, you have my respect and support as you determine the best path through this crazy maze of wires and screens.

Oh, and my cord yanking skills…

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