It started off slow.
Checking Facebook when we had a few minutes to spare. Posting a snap on Instagram to share a special memory with friends. Catching up on the news or checking the weather.
But somehow, without us even noticing, our devices are taking over. Taking over family dinners and coffee dates, playtime with our kids and talk time with our partners.
It’s not that technology is the enemy. I’m currently writing this post on my new iPhone 6 Plus (it’s so big!) and have an iPad set up in the back seat for my 4 month old to (sometimes) keep him from screaming blue murder on car trips.
But I’m constantly aware of finding a balance. Between being present in the moment and capturing it to share on Facebook. Between watching a cute dog video on YouTube and going outside and throwing a stick with our dog. Between reading parenting articles about how to be a better parent and actually being one.
We have had many discussions in our household about just that. About how important it is to us to spend quality time together looking at each other and not a screen. About how ridiculous it is that 4 year olds have their own iPads and that we don’t want to use a screen as a babysitter for our children.
I must preface this with a disclaimer for all those parents out there for whom technology is a godsend. A way to communicate with a child on the spectrum or educate a child with learning disabilities. I’m more so talking about how we could walk into any restaurant in the country and see people looking at their phones instead of each other.
I distinctly recall talking about these things when I was pregnant. One of the things I said was I didn’t want to be breastfeeding and on my phone the whole time. What I failed to realise at the time was that breastfeeding takes up like 14 hours a day in those early weeks. And when staring at your newborn and taking in their every tiny feature only takes up about 7 of them there is still a whole lot of time to kill. The mighty smartphone is a godsend to a new mum. It reminds her that there is a world outside the 4 walls of her house and helps her connect with it even just a little.
I know we’re not the only household dealing with this dilemma. Wives are battling phones for the attention of their husbands. Parents are battling with their kids for a family meal without phones on the table. And babies are smiling and giggling at us while we laugh at a funny video on Facebook.
This powerful image published by the Huffington Post is captioned with “the more you connect, the less you connect.” If we are being honest I think we have probably all been guilty of neglecting a loved one because we are too busy with a smart phone in our face.
So, how do you deal with the technology takeover in your family? A screen free hour each night? No phones at the dinner table? Chores for the WiFi password?
How can we benefit from all the great things about technology without just amusing ourselves to death? How can we ensure we enjoy some downtime thumbing through our Facebook and Instagram feeds without neglecting our loved ones?
How do we strike that perfect balance between living in the moment, and living in the digital world of Facebook updates and YouTube videos?
Because at the moment, it feels like technology is slowly starting to win the battle for our attention and that is something that I think… rather, that is something that I know, we need to change!