Recently, ABC ran a special hosted by Diane Sawyer on screen time. The opening stat was staggering. Adults spend 49 days (1.5 months) a year looking down at mobile screens.
Yesterday, I sat down with my two daughters (aged 8 and 9) and watched the first segment on YouTube with them. Diane and her camera crew spent 30 hours with a family tracking the amount of time they spent on screens and although the results were not surprising, they were still a bit disturbing.
12 Year Old: 12 hours (7 hours video gaming)
14 Year Old: 14 hours (video gaming and social media)
17 Year Old: 12.5 hours (social media)
Parent 1 and 2: 5 hours each (social media)
As we were huddled on my daughter's bed after (definitely inspired to read a book before bed), I asked them what they thought about the segment.
"Those kids spend too much time on devices", "I think we should spend less time on screens", "you need to too, Mommy", were their comments.
The part that made me even more melancholy was that the segment started with videos of the family together having fun outside, being silly and showing each other love, before screens invade their lives.
I remember those times with my Mom and Dad and siblings, days before everything became on-demand and at the whim of a finger swipe. My girls were born in the iPhone era - exposed to devices at the same time they were learning how to walk. Some was inadvertent as they became fascinated with the video I had just taken of them and some was purposeful, giving them my phone as we waited for the something to start.
Have I robbed my kids of the opportunity to create memories in the same way we did as kids? As one dad said, "I hope the thing my kids don't wish when they are old is that they spent more time in the real world."
We know that technology is here to stay and even the most diligent parent will not be able to resist devices forever so we need to have opportunities to talk to our kids about what life they might be missing out on if the only life they know is boxed in a little screen.
Try tracking the screen time for your family? What do your habits look like?