Digital Devices and When to Ditch Them
I have a 12-year-old son and if I didn’t limit his time on his iPad, he would be stuck to that thing 24/7. Once I said to him before bedtime, “Hey iPad boy, it’s time to turn that thing off.” He retorted, “OK, iPhone girl!” Touche.
We tell our children they are addicted to their devices yet we adults are even more undisciplined – texting in line at the bank, checking Facebook at dinner with friends, scrolling Instagram while in bed with the lights off, chat messaging while having “quality” time with loved ones.
With so many people—children and adults—frequently glued to their mobile devices or tablets, just how much is too much?
The smartphone or tablet can be a wonderful distraction—what the hell did we do at doctor’s offices and airports before they came along? They are also super convenient for keeping in touch with others and doing business while on the go. But sometimes there are situations while using them are downright rude or inappropriate and so these digital devices simply need to be ditched.
Restrictions for Children
- My son is allowed to use his iPad only on weekends – never on school days unless it is needed for a project in class for research and writing. I feel it distracts his focus from his schoolwork and engaging with others. On weekends – he’s allowed to play after he reads a few chapters of his book. Bonus: thank God battery life is limited.
- No iPads are allowed at family mealtimes at home. When we eat out at a restaurant, he is allowed to play games on my phone or his tablet only after everyone has eaten and with the volume turned off. I am dismayed to see families eating together but on their own devices, often times with the children totally disconnected from the rest of the group – headphones on and head down. How is family conversation going to happen that way? And we wonder why we don’t know what’s going on in our children’s lives.
- Definitely no digital devices are allowed in the bathroom. Not only is it possibly dangerous for the device with all that water, it also is an unnecessary distraction to finish what is needed to be done. Furthermore, you wouldn’t want your teenage daughter chatting with anyone or sending pics while in there. Some things are meant to be private.
Appropriate Behavior for Adults
- Using your phone while driving is a definite deal breaker. There’s nothing so urgent that can’t wait for the stoplight or if needed, use a hands-free headset. In some cities, it’s against the law to use your phone while driving.
- I like the idea of people who have dinner together that put their devices on silent mode in the middle of the table, and the first one who picks up the phone, treats everyone to a drink, as illustrated in this New York Times article . We are on our devices so often that when we meet up with people we should put away those phones (unless waiting for an urgent call or message) and enjoy each other’s company real time.
- Have you ever sat in a theater enjoying a movie you’ve been waiting to see, only to be annoyed by the glare of someone using their phone? Worse, being near someone who is yapping away on the phone so that you can’t hear the dialogue? Screen time in movies, theater and any sort of live performance is a definite no-no.
- Likewise, put your phone on silent mode during church, while on the train, during a conference or any time you are in a public space.
I do love my mobile phone and would feel lost without it. But I have to remind myself to put it away when my son wants to spend time with me or when I too am at the table having lunch with family. There’s no substitute for real life social interaction and experiences. I don’t think anyone will look back and wish they spent more time on Instagram.