As I am running around at the end of the night trying to complete tasks for the day, picking up the minefield of toys, folding the mountain of laundry, and cleaning up a spilled juice box on the floor, I hear that sound. That familiar “ba-dum” of the smart phone. I have a notification. It sparks my interest of course, as it usually does. However, this notification is not one that I welcome. It is one that I deemed in my head the universe’s way of making me feel that dreaded mom guilt.
It is the weekly screen time report.
I usually brush it off, but something about this one gets my attention. “Your average daily screen time for this week was 6 hours and 31 minutes. Up 15% from last week.” My first instinct is to deny that I used my phone that much, not possible. I was too busy today. But in all reality, I know how accurate this technology is and accept this truth eventually.
Even when I break it down and put it in context (my kids used my phone for a couple hours, I worked on my phone for a couple hours, watched the news, etc…), there is still a large amount of time that I can’t seem to rationalize spending on my phone. I could have spent that time being more productive, completing a household project on the never-ending to-do list, or holding my children, playing with them, giving them the attention my phone says I gave my social media apps today. The mom guilt that this report has triggered is real and the painful reality is, I held my phone more than I held my children today.
It is a hard realization to know that as busy as I felt today – cleaning, running around with the kids and working from home – I still wasted time on my phone. Now, of course, we are all entitled to some self-indulgence, scrolling on social media to see what the grown-ups are up to after being with kids in the house all day, creating a post of your weekend events for friends and family to see, watching videos for a laugh, or even reading a blog. The problem is combining relaxation time with the time that I had to be on my phone adds up to the numbers on the report that show I held my phone more than my children.
But what can I do about this?
How do I hold my kids more and my phone less in this technology-driven world? A world that demands I work, make calls, research kindergartens, and communicate with others through this smart phone. I thought I was doing all the right things to limit my use of technology (keeping social media notifications off, turning it on silent when I can’t be disturbed, not downloading certain addicting games or apps), but this technology still snuck into my life in alarming amounts.
This makes me realize that I need to read those screen time reports, even if they make me confront an uncomfortable reality. I need to make an effort, to put down the phone, have tech-free family nights, no phones at the dinner table, and limit not just my child’s screen time, but mine as well. It is possible many of us need to confront that dreaded screen time report because when we hold our phones more than children, we can’t just delete the impact that it may have our future and the future of our children as if it were an embarrassing picture on social media.