Technology has grown into an increasingly significant component of my life and my family’s life. We have a Nook tablet, two smart phones, and two laptops in our home, plus one cracked and outdated iPod that is continuously getting lost. My three kids have to be torn away from screens and you’ll pry my Apple iPhone out of my cold, dead hands. Additionally, I recently accepted a writing and editor position with an online news and humor site, The Rooner Post, and as such decided to get on Twitter and redo my LinkedIn and Google+ profiles. I’m more connected than ever. No type of technology vacation was in our future.
However, all this connection is starting to make me feel disconnected. Between the tablet, the Apple technology in the house, and my son’s recent discovery and obsession with Minecraft on the XBox, my family is spending less time interacting and looking at each other and more time staring at screens.
I’ll fully admit to being the biggest offender, too. I’m a hypocrite who will take away screens from my kids and send them off to play with “real” toys but refuses to put down my iPhone. Or when I do put my iPhone away I pull out my PC laptop. Furthermore, I don’t just throw a tantrum if my technology crashes; I have a full-blown panic attack and lose all sense of perspective over the problem.
I’ve dieted over the years, trained myself to stop biting my nails, and have even quit television for a week at a time. But could I do the same thing with my access to technology? Could I put my Apple products, tablet, and pc away, except for actual work purposes, for any length of time?
That’s my goal for this week. Before I’ve successfully counted calories to lose weight, this week I’m going to count minutes I spend online and connected to technology and instead of losing weight, gain some real quality time with my children. I am fairly certain this will be a bigger challenge than staying away from chocolate and soda pop and donuts. I love donuts.
However, I have a plan for this technology vacation. I planned and researched to lose weight and then stuck to that plan, and this time is hardly different. I need a plan and will even use some weight loss tricks to achieve this goal.
My Technology Vacation Outline
Alternatives. I’m going to create alternatives to replace old habits. I am an extremely introverted person and will admit that sometimes all the interaction I get as a mother can be overwhelming. I have family members on the Autism spectrum who get overwhelmed by certain kinds of stimulation, and while I’m not on the spectrum, I do have certain traits in common with them. When I get overwhelmed by noise this week, I will send my kids to their rooms to play, turn on soothing music, or read a book. I’ve got a stack on my nightstand that have been neglected in lieu of technology and Facebook.
Walk. Walking serves many purposes. It gives me energy, meaning I’m less likely to get overwhelmed, provides an escape, and can be a form of moving meditation. I will schedule time each day for walking, even if that means just ten minutes at a time. I drive a lot for one of my jobs and have plenty of time, sometimes, between appointments. I will bring my walking shoes and good socks with me in my car each day and when I get free time I will take a walk. I will even use this time to listen to music (yes, on my Apple technology).
Schedule cheat times. My mother’s group, friends, and job are all online. I can link up and talk to friends or coworkers nearly any time of day online. Going cold turkey won’t work for me for many reasons, least of which is missing the newest Mumbling Mommy post! Given this need in my life for being online, I will schedule times each day when I can chat with friends, check my favorite websites just for fun, and surf the latest news online. Perhaps a good way to do this will be to allow myself ten minutes per hour for a break from working.
Technology is an important part of our lives. We connect with friends, discover and pursue interests, and work online and on different forms of technology. But, it’s important to recognize when all that time online is taking away from real time offline. I hope by week’s end I have played a few more games of chess with my son, danced with my daughters, and finished a few more chapters of the Harry Potter book we’ve all been reading together.
I’ll have shown myself that I don’t need to be connected to my phone or internet every waking minute and it can go back to being for work and an occasional chat with friends. This reminds me, I need to start using my phone to have real conversations with friends and family. Instead of texting or messaging them on Facebook, I’ll make it a goal during my technology vacation this week to call someone every day instead of messaging them through technology.
What are you doing this week to use technology and is it getting in the way? How do you make sure you’re using technology to benefit your family? Would you consider a technology vacation?
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