I have been thinking about screens a lot lately. Part of that is surely because I just finished The Winter of our Disconnect. It’s a really interesting read about an American woman living in Perth, Australia who decides her family, which consists of 3 teenagers, needs to take a 6 month break from screens in their home. This means for 6 months no smartphones, no computers, no TV, nothing which has a screen. The kids can use computers, etc outside the home, just not when they are home. She actually starts the experiment by cutting the power to her house for 2 weeks. She writes about the experiences she has as well as what she witnesses in her kids and weaves lots of research in and out with the story. She’s an engaging writer, so the book is really well done. Plus the changes in her children are absolutely amazing and totally lead one to believe that there is something to putting the screens away.
In my life, I have dramatically cut back the use of screens when I am not at work. Since I work all day staring at a computer, I decided it would be good for me to get away from that. So the reading of the book came at a very appropriate time as well. G also decided a few months ago to move the TV upstairs and out of our living room. The hope was we would watch less TV and maybe read or just plain talk more. This has been the biggest impetus to change for us. Now instead of G sitting drinking beer and eating snacks while parked in front of the TV while I’m cooking dinner (yes I do the cooking and I don’t want to hear about it, I like it), he sits at the kitchen table and we talk about our day, maybe we have NPR on and listen to news and talk about that. It’s been great and I’m really enjoying it. That doesn’t mean that we don’t actually go up after dinner and watch something, but we rarely watch while eating dinner. We do have the occasional treat of eating take out upstairs, but it is a treat and feels like that, rather than normal.
In addition to the TV change, I am rarely looking at a computer when I am not at work. It is only actually to do the chores of life, such as our bookkeeping, checking on my blog, etc. I do have the iPad now so that has become something to do a bit of surfing on and I think I spend way more time on that than on my laptop. But on weekends, especially now that the sun is coming out more and the temperature is rising, I read, I sit in the sun, I take the dog for a walk, I talk with friends, or I just sit and think and ponder ideas. It has been a great change for me.
I have to say, after reading the book, I don’t know that I could go 6 months without screens, it would be hard, but I am not married to my screens. Most evenings my iThings sit without me even touching them and they are on vibrate so I can’t hear them from another room. I am more relaxed and able to concentrate on people rather than on screens and that is a very good thing.