Posted in Children, Creativity, Relationships, Technology

Is media (cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming) robbing you and your family of valuable time?

Surfing the Web
A Sketch I Drew of My Daughter.

If you’re a parent, perhaps you’ve struggled over the same issue.  Media and its domination over our attention during non-work time in our lives seems to grow daily.  You go out to a restaurant and find groups of twenty somethings all sitting around a table, physically present, but their minds are engaged in the firmware held in their hands, mentally distant!

Our son is fascinated with Minecraft, and our daughters enjoy keeping up with the latest music videos, Dr. Who, and other electronically facilitated entertainment.  I am enamored with social media (in all its forms), but my wife appreciates a living, breathing, conversant subject to interact with.  She, and many others complain about what our society (this generation) is coming to; worries about the quality of relationships, and ability to exercise human kindness and respect in this instant gratification “push button” world.

During my recent convalescence from ankle surgery, I had a lot of time to observe our family dynamics and watch the rhythms of our lives with some mental objectivity and decided to make a pie chart of the activities of each person in our household.  I came up with several categories of activities and set a value to each one to determine how big of a piece of the pie each one made up.

In spite of the fact that our family sits together to consume most meals, and we don’t have kids watching movies in moving vehicles, the “family” piece of pie still falls short when compared with academics, media, peers & play, life skills (chores), sleep/hygiene.  Family time means different things to different people.  Reading aloud, playing table games, taking a walk, camping, fishing, bike riding…these are all great family activities that don’t require a screen, keyboard or mouse!

So this week, in order to “set the example” I chose to do less time in social media and more time reading books that have been on my list.  I finished reading the following books:

* Crowdsourcing by Daren Brabham, where I learned his definition of crowdsourcing as “an online, distributed model that leverages the collective intelligence of online communities for specific purposes set forth by a crowdsourcing organization, corporation, government, or volunteer.”  Not to be confused with crowd funding and other crowd models of resource aggregation.  Its a quick read I highly recommend if you are interested in future methods of ways to handle global issues & problem solving.

* A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House, an author who does an incredible job of character development by painting a beautiful world with words.  I associate a talent of his literary skill with the movie motion picture effect of “slow motion.”  His introduction to specific moments make your mind play out the words on your mind’s screen just as if the video had been playing in slow motion!  I’m simply going to have to add the rest of his works to my reading list.

The observations I made about my own media/online habits helped me decide to start a reading journal.  This allows me to record the book title and author, as well as key takeaways, recommended books, and other ideas found in the pages of these authors.  It will also hold me accountable to choosing quality over quantity.  When I log onto my social media accounts, I find it easy to get sucked into a time warp where there’s lots of individual bursts of entertainment, insights, newsy bits…but, the book I really want to read won’t read itself.  The value of 100 tweets read doesn’t stack up to a work of studious effort of a passionate author about a particular topic or discovery.  So, while I still engage online, I also consider the value of my time and adjust appropriately to improve the quality of what I’m acquiring in my grey matter.

Last week I told my children (then tweeted), “We are all architects! #Architects of our wakeful time. How you use it determines what gets built! What art though building?”  So, I put this question to myself every day now.  It really helps me weigh the value of my options and make the best choice to achieve my goals.  Due to different choices I am making, I was also able to draw the picture illustration in this post!

Tomorrow, as a family, we will have a discussion about “family time” and how to ensure that appropriate time is invested in the face-to-face, non-electronically facilitated engagement & entertainment….a steady diet of learning about each other, supporting each other, preparing for our tomorrows by dreaming out loud today.

Thanks for reading and I do hope you contribute your comments and thoughts on this post.  Is media (cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming) robbing you and your family of valuable time?