Empathy and Screen Time.

Aaron and I both have regular cell phones. The kind that only have text features and basic calling. My phone doesn’t even understand emoticons. This is sad. *sad face emoticon.*

We bought iPod Touches a while ago, but just use wifi when we have access. With this combination, we still get to occasionally have fun, but we save HUNDREDS of dollars yearly on our phone bill.

But despite our household’s lack of cellular advancement, we still find ourselves checking our “phones” (iPod Touches) on an obnoxiously regular basis. I’d love to say it’s once an hour but let’s be honest here. I am never too far from my iPod at any given moment.

There are the justifications. Waiting for a response from an email I sent in the morning. Looking to see how many people commented on my anniversary on Facebook. Checking for any possible notification that would make it necessary for me to spend time swiping and tapping. All while my kids breathe and dance and laugh right in front of me. Or honestly… while they are trying to talk to me. Or more honestly… while my husband is trying to talk to me.

I’m reading “UnSelfie” by Michelle Borba. Actually I’ve barely begun. But what has INSTANTLY struck me on the topic of empathy study and education is the self-centeredness of parents and what we are modeling to our kids. If I’m going to care so much about this issue, I should be modeling it. One of the actions they encourage parents to do is to stop checking their phones so much.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m going off Facebook, deleting my Instagram account, and setting time limits on my devices. And I’m not selling my iPod. It’s my precccciousssss.

But I very seriously and genuinely stared my kids down this morning and said, “I give you permission to let me know if you see me checking my phone too much.” And then I proceeded to tell them why. I want them to know that the people in front of me are the most important. That the people in the room with me are more important than an email from someone else, or a funny Facebook post, or a cool Instagram picture.

There is a time and a place, of course. I can set aside purposeful time on my computer and iPod to answer emails, and check a few social media accounts. Or sometimes I need down time on my couch, browsing Pinterest while my kids laugh and play around me. We all need our down time.

But if we could… shall I say… EMPATHIZE. If we could put ourselves in the shoes of those around us and consider the way they are affected by the things we do, say, act, swipe, and tap, I wonder how that would affect the generation who learns our behavior.

I could be eating my words, as my kids will likely constantly have to remind me to put my phone down. But I feel as much pain as it’s going to cause me, it will turn into a fun game, AND it will hopefully teach my kids the value of face-to-face time and communication.

Here’s to hoping. *smiley face winking*

 

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