Sometimes I love screens. Having all that vast information at our fingertips is thrilling. Being able to finally discover the real lyrics to a song is satisfying. I love settling in front of the TV cuddled up to my family to watch a movie together. I love being able to show my daughter a You Tube clip of the 2000 Olympic Games opening ceremony, to see Nikki Webster ‘swimming’ in the middle of the stadium. I love seeing the brilliant artwork my son has created with his tablet, and hearing the funky music track my daughter has sung and recorded all the different parts for, on the Garage Band app. I love being able to use Instagram to pretty up an ordinary looking photo. I love writing in my blog, and reading other peoples’ blogs, and gathering ideas from all corners of the globe to use in creating my own little life right here. At those times – I love screens.
But I also hate screens. I rail against their existence, and feel like shaking my fist at them. “Stop stealing my children away!”, I want to yell at them. Well, actually, maybe it’s not the screens I hate…it’s more the helpless feeling of knowing they are there, and that sometimes they are the most alluring thing in the house. The screen’s enticing, relentless call to action seeps into my kids’ brains, inviting them to try more, watch more, create more, interact more, and yes, play more video games. Even the toddler wakes up and asks immediately to watch “somefing on the ‘pooter”. I feel my heart sink as I see that he, too, has been hypnotised by the lure of the screen.
I couldn’t find the toddler…and then look what I came across. He’d popped himself up on the chair, donned his sister’s headphones, and was importantly tapping away at the keyboard!
And of course, I have to accept responsibility for that. Screens are an inevitable part of our life. My toddler sees me using a screen to find a recipe for his breakfast, to chart a course to a new park for homeschool group, to communicate with his grandma, to order food. He sees me use my iPhone for photography, to write shopping lists, and to ‘zone out’ when it all gets a bit much (something I am not proud of, this last one, and trying to avoid).
But hating screens does nothing for anyone. Well, nothing beyond giving me an initial call to action. I’ve realised that when I am hating on screens, what I am really doing, is reacting to the state of our family in that moment.