Posts Tagged ‘screen time’

For years I’ve been anti-TV. I felt proud when I’d blurt out to friends, “Oh, I don’t know that series. I don’t watch TV,” or when I’d reply to a question on a poll about my favorite TV show with “I don’t watch TV.”

OK, I secretly wished I was up-to-date on all that programming, but I just couldn’t admit it. I’m a writer, and therefore a reader, so books were my medium of choice. I’d read for hours and hours, while my ex watched hours of TV in the TV room floors from our bedroom. I could say this may have had something to do with our demise. Me reader … him watcher … hours apart without much interaction.

And who I was I to throw stones. I could cozy up to my Facebook, Twitter or writing projects; head buried in the Mac screen. I could take the Netflix to my bedroom and watch my own little movie. Alone. The flights of stairs became miles of distance. At least it felt this way. But I held strong to my convictions.

Years back I had embarrassed my ex when he asked me, on the fly, to write an English paper for him while he was going to a community college in Northern Nevada. Sure he was busy and I could pump out words at a feverish pace, so it made sense when work made it impossible for him to sit down and write. Boy did I get him …

The topic was family and for some reason I got onto the sub-topic of communications. I rambled on about how important family dinners are and how today’s schedules were slowly stripping that quality family time away. I will never forget the last sentence of that story, written over 16 years ago: “So turn off the TV and start talking.”

My ex didn’t read the story before he turned it in, and was taken off guard when the (female) teacher asked him, and only him, to read his paper in front of the all-female class. My ex was pretty macho, so he apparently took to the front of the room without blinking, knowing I had written a doozey of an A+-worthy paper. He was proud of our efforts … until that last sentence.

My ex loved TV. Loved NFL, NBA and the pure joy of the man-remote connection. He ate, breathed, lived, slept TV. I didn’t. So, as the women gave him a teary-eyed standing ovation at the completion of his monologue, he plotted revenge for me upon his return. It never came, but we certainly laughed at the irony of the story. The teacher loved him after that, so he appreciated the good grades and soon forgot my twist on the story of “family.”

Then I was reading a magazine article the other day and took a extra second to absorb the words in front of me and the weight they carried in today’s world.

Computers have further stripped the family dynamic. I wake up and check my email on my phone, head to Facebook for some other connections, tweet a few shout-outs during the day and email consistently throughout the day. My boyfriend recently purchased an iPad, making the online time even easier, and with an 8-year-old who just found the fun in Fruit Ninja, I’m seeing how this is going to start to add up. All this screen time.

The basis of the mag article was that researchers are finding that TV time is a great family-bonding activity. Of course nothing beats outdoor group activities. Sure, but the dark Pacific Northwest winter can bring challenges. According to the study, cheering on teams together and playing TV game shows can be a great bonding experience. OK, I get it, but it’s going to take me a little while to like it.

I’ve been testing it out a bit since reading the article, and I have to say there’s no way not to like my daughter’s curiosity: “What’s the secret ingredient?”


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