Log off and play!

You've probably seen {or at least heard about} the bumper sticker that came out after cell phones {then called car phones} started becoming very popular...  "Hang up and drive"  

It seems these days, we don't need to "hang up" so much as we need to "log off."  It's rare to actually see someone talking on their phone, but EVERYONE is texting or checking e-mail or facebook or tweeting.... ALL the time.  If not on the phone, then on the computer.  

I am a fan of the internet and cell phones {obviously}, but everything in moderation, and lately it seems like that moderation has been more and more on my mind.  My generation is missing HUGE chunks of their children's lives because they are "logged in."  
And, I for one, don't want to anymore.

I witnessed a father with his two sons at the park.  The older was just a bit older than my daughter and the younger just a bit younger, so probably 4 and 2 or something like that.  They got out of the car, boys running to the park, dad trailing behind, phone in hand, pointer finger working hard.  The older boy seemed ok to play on his own, but the younger still needed some help and dad was oblivious.  He located a bench, sat down, and was engrossed in that little world he held in his palm.  A bit later, both boys wanted to swing on a tire swing, so Dad put the phone away for a second and help them on, gave them a big push {that would last awhile} and out came the phone again.  After much begging once the swing had stopped, the boys were able to lure Dad out of cyber-world for another push.  Once the swing stopped for a second time, the older boy moved on, but the smaller one wasn't able to get off on his own, much to dad's frustration.  He alternated between ignoring him and harshly telling him to just get down....but never looking up from his small screen to realize that it was in fact too far down and the little boy could not do it on his own.  Exasperation set in for the little guy and he quickly moved into a tantrum, upsetting the father and resulting in the 10 minute playtime at the park being over.  On the way to the car, the phone came back out, and the little guy continued to fuss while dad made threats of spankings, never looking up from the screen.

I retell this scene, because it broke my heart.  Not only for those little boys who want time with their daddy and that man who is missing SO much, but also because I realized that I am sometimes {far too often} the parent who needs to just send one more e-mail, or check one more thing on facebook, or write one more blogpost...  But really...  when my daughter is grown up and moved on, will I remember the e-mail, the facebook, or the blogs??????  But, the fun we had at the park that day -- when she was brave and went down the BIG slide all by herself...THAT we will remember.

Managing internet time is something that is heavy on my mind and heart and I have tried various methods.  What seems to work best for me {but may not be best for you} is to have set times that I will be online and unless it is VERY important, try to stick to those.  I find that if I close the laptop {which in my case also disconnects me from the internet} I am less likely to check e-mail real quick when I pass by and risk getting lured in.  My goal is to spend as little time as possible when my daughter is awake using the computer.  SO -- that means I get up early and go to bed late and use precious naptime to check e-mail...  which also means I spend less time online...which is a good thing.  

I don't want my daughter's memories of me to be that I was always behind the computer screen or with my back to her, or always checking e-mail.  I don't want her to think that texting is more important than she is.  I think the phone is the harder one to pull away from than the computer.  We are SO used to being connected ALL THE TIME.  I have started leaving my phone at one end of the house while I am at another so that I can't hear it ring and thus am not tempted to start texting and get involved in long conversations.  

This is a work in progress for me, and I'd love to know how some of you are managing media time without neglecting your family.  If this is a new concept for you, I challenge you to keep track of how much time you're spending online and using your phone...even just the 2 minutes here and 5 minutes there add up.

How many times in a day do you tell your kids {or spouse}..."just a second" while you're online?  Next time, ask yourself...do I really need to do this, or am I missing a precious moment with my family for something {fleeting} online?


Nae and Clara said...

Great post! I'll admit that I don't get the whole texting thing, so that's not a real temptation for me. It's so easy for me to be critical of those parents just like you mentioned who are totally oblivious to their kids while they are glued to their tiny screen. Then I think about all the times I tell my kids, "Let me just check my e-mail." or "Let Mommy finish reading this post..." It's just as harmful to my children. I think I'm going to write out the title to this post "Log off and play!" and tape it to the top of my laptop. It'll be a good reminder every time I'm tempted to open up the screen. Is this really important? What matters more in the end? Thanks for bringing up this topic.

brite said...

Good post...

Let's see, I'm off FB, I don't have a texting plan or a smart phone, and I don't blog very much. :) I'd love to hear how people DO stay connected without neglecting their family- I've just never found a good balance so most of the time I have to avoid it all.

And for me, it is a matter of not wanting my kids to think the ________(whatever) is more important than they are...but it's also a matter of setting a pattern for our home. They will have access to all of that technology- and more- in not that long, and I don't want them to think it's okay to ignore their siblings and parents in favor of their connection to the rest of the world.

Amanda said...

Brite -- you make a good point with regard to setting a pattern for the home. Thanks for that.

Thanks for the feedback - I guess I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my struggle for balance. Prayers for you, my friends. :-)

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