Nick Kuh, co-founder of Glued, is taking timeout from tech on Father’s Day.
Following a screen time row with my teenage son, I made the mistake of briefly checking my own phone at the dinner table. Finn immediately blurted out:
“Dad, you’re such a hypocrite! I bet you spend more time on your iPhone than I do on my iPad!”
Unfortunately, it turns out he’s right. I know this because I recently built Glued [http://www.glued.to] — an app that tracks screen time and helps families to be more mindful of how much time they spend on devices each day.
Outside of work hours I used to spend an average 3 hours a day on my phone. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram being my apps of choice. Whether walking to work, standing in a lift, queuing for coffee, in the loo(!): pretty much during any momentary gap in my daily routine I’d reach for my phone to get an update on the social media lives of other people.
That’s about 50 days per year wasted being a voyeuristic bore. And I’m not alone.
The average user spends 50 minutes a day on Facebook alone. If you add in our work screen time we actually spend more time on media devices each day than sleeping! It’s not surprising that our screen time habits have been inherited by our kids.
All this wasted time results in less face-to-face time with our family and friends.
No one really knows yet how much screen time is too much. There’s no concrete medical evidence on the longterm effects of screen time. However, what we do know is that since the invention of the smartphone the average human attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds. That’s 1 second less than a goldfish!
It’s not that surprising really, considering the endless noise of these apps in our pocket competing for our attention. Virtual farms that need regular watering, candy to be crushed, a competition for likes of our social network personas. It’s amazing we have any time left to enjoy real life.
I’d begun to think that Finn prefered time on his iPad to time with me. Especially in more recent years as he’s become a young teen and is often online messaging with his friends. But I’ve since realised that the main thing he craves from me is attention and focus. It annoys him when I check messages during a football kick about together just as it annoys me when a Snapchat arrives that distracts his attention during a real conversation.
In the last 6 months I’ve massively cut down my own screen time. At weekends I rarely spend more than about 45 minutes total per day on my phone. In doing so, I’ve also seen Finn become more aware of his own screen time and be more amenable to downing devices collaboratively as a family.
My wife and I have made our bedroom a device-free zone. So I no longer use my phone as an alarm clock. It sits, with the devices, charging in the living room at night. I found just having my phone next to the bed enough of a distraction to keep checking it every few minutes. If it’s out of reach or even better out of sight I tend to forget about staying ‘always online’, relax and enjoy more time with my family.
The key to finding a more harmonious balance between our relationships with humans vs technology is to break the habit of regularly checking our devices and take regular daily digital detoxes.
I want to reduce my own screen time not only because it makes me a better parent, I’m happier offline.
Nick, Nicole and Finn are the founding family of Team Glued.
Glued [http://www.glued.to] - free to download from the App Store.
LIKED THIS? READ MORE:
A blog from Nature Nutty Mummy beautifully relating her experience of adopting two little nature-shy children and watching them, step by step, grow into children free, confident, connected to nature and excited to be outdoors. Read More.
Anna Neubert-Wood gives us an inspiring account of what it is like to home-school your kids once per week to give them a chance to learn practical skills and spend time exploring and playing in nature. Read More.
Parenting can often feel like wrestling an octopus, with one arm behind your back, while wearing a blindfold. This is particularly true when it comes to technology. Read More.