My media time has been on my heart lately. The impact of media (or screen time) has been well documented.. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time until the age of two and then only one to two hours per day for older children. We've chosen to abide by this recommendation for our child. However, I've been burdened as to if this is sufficient. A child is influenced by screens not just through direct access, but also through a parent's personal use. Though we are media limited in our home, I've grown convicted that the screen time I do have is still inappropriate.
Sometimes I long for a "simple" life- a life free of the constant beckoning of the cell phone screen, television screen, and computer screen. I wonder if life, especially mothering, was easier in the past without these gadgets. While they can be a great aid, I've found them to also be a greater distraction. My attention is pulled away from greater priorities numerous times each day. Why is their draw so intense?
I've contemplated the potential reasons. First, outlets such as social media can provide an instantaneous sense of approval and attention. A simple post can bring numerous favorable responses. Who doesn't enjoy being "liked" over and over? However, seeking approval of oneself from others is an endless fruitlessness. God's approval is superior and solely significant. Also, one must have intimate knowledge of and confidence in oneself. Approval and/or attention from others cannot serve this purpose. Moreover, I have a wonderful man and little man as my family, and their attention is by far greater than any that could be achieved through a screen. If I feel as though I'm not receiving adequate attention from them (and one doesn't count as he's just a baby who offers lots of attention), then perhaps I need to take initiative to offer them greater attention (ie don't expect a return for little investment).
Second, screens can serve as a means of escape. Screens have the ability to fully capture one's attention. For that moment, you're entirely apart of that other world. On occasion, that "other world" has been more desirable than my own whether it be due to difficulty or boredom. While reading the book Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sallie Clarkson, I was struck by the notion of being a willing participant in life. In essence, when you accept all parts of your life, then escaping is less desirable. Honestly, when I step away from the moment and examine my life my heart if bursting. Pinterest, Facebook, blogs etc. all seem less exciting in comparison to the life I have with my family. I want my home and family to be my "escape" in life.
Finally, it's undeniable that screens have intercepted nearly every facet of life, even mothering. I feel as though attention to screens and/or media negatively impacts my mothering. My attention is pulled away from my role as my husband's wife and my son's mama. How much greater time and energy would I have if the sum of screen time is applied elsewhere? The habit is also a poor example to my son. I feel a bit of a hypocrite by denying his access to screens due to negative influence yet permit myself boundless access despite the same (if not additional) negatives. If I desire for my son to learn to partake of screen time with self-control and discipline, then I must first exhibit those characteristics myself. Most of all, I want my son (as well as my husband) to know that he is more valued to me than anything else. I don't want him/them to feel as though they must compete with a screen for my attention (and for a child this means acting out). I also want him/them to feel as though my love is so great that I am a willing participant in the life that includes them.
Does this mean that I ought to close all online accounts and/or rid myself of the television set, computer, or cell phone (this is actually the entirety of our electronics in our home)? Do I strictly guard my child against screen time? Not necessarily. I believe God has placed the matter of screen time on my heart lately to bring me back to a place of balance (in addition to other lessons). I want my child to understand that there is balance in and appropriate times for all things. I enjoy using a schedule/routine in our days for this purpose. At the bottom of the page and at the end of the day, there is a block of time designated as "personal time." This is the time to devote to any interests, including computer and television usage. I need to establish new habits such as shutting down all devices at the end of the day, reminding myself to keep them off throughout the day, and then turning them on only during that designated time. Ultimately, nothing is as valuable as investing in my home and family.