Tag Archives: screen time

Wait Before Destroying The iPad

Silence hangs over the house like a heavy blanket on an otherwise beautiful afternoon.

You have several kids at home…there should be noise, so your imagination takes over.

They must be outside trying cigarettes or drinking a beer in secret.  No way should they be this quiet.

But on your way to the back yard, you walk by the family room.  Each kid sits quietly on the sofa, almost shoulder to shoulder, ears plugged with earbuds, shoulders slouched, neck bent, eyes fixed on 3.1 million glorious pixels.  Not a creature stirred.

Moments like those make me want to yank out the earbuds and snatch every device.  Then, in front of the kids, use a ball pein hammer to delicately shatter each iPad screen, and show them the door to the back yard where they should be playing.

Photo Credit: Finnberg68 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Finnberg68 via Compfight cc

But, since I have my own dysfunctional relationship with electronics, I tone down my response and give the kids five more minutes to wrap up before they get sent outside or must start a new, non-electronic activity.

So…what is it with our love-hate relationship with electronics and “screen time”?

As someone in my mid-40s, access to electronics growing up was limited.  I might just harbor jealousy when I see what amazing resources my son has access to.

Photo Credit: zigazou76 via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: zigazou76 via Compfight cc

I had to go to the library and look up articles on microfiche.  Part of me wants my son to share in my suffering.

Having just finished open house for my son’s fifth-grade class, half of the academic helps for our kids come in the form of iPad apps.  So, now he can legitimately say screen time equals study time.

So, should I just give up?


It is time to embrace these amazing tools.  It is also time to recognize my son’s job will likely have a close tie to his ability to utilize screen time.

But I will help him find a balance.  He will hike with me.  He will set up a lemonade stand.  He will play an instrument.  He will play rugby.  He will help with DIY projects around the house.

And I might let him find the YouTube video to help out with the DIY project.

What role do electronics play in your home?  What is your biggest struggle?

Did Steve Jobs Just Fire My Babysitter?

My first real computer was an Apple Macintosh SE/30.  It’s massive 30MB hard drive handled the operating system and all my programs with ease.

Photo Credit: CyphermX via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: CyphermX via Compfight cc

Since my first purchase in 1990, Apple has been my exclusive personal computer provider.  Despite some lean years and misfires, Apple has consistently designed for the end user.  Steve Jobs cast the vision (during his various tenures at Apple) and I followed.

Fast forward to 2014.  My full-frame Nikon takes single photos larger than 30MB in RAW format.  And my son has a 16GB iPad Mini with the memory equivalent of over 530 Macintosh SE/30s.

And he loves his iPad.  Honestly, I love mine, too.

My son is able to text and FaceTime his mom, and it has changed the nature of how we communicate with our loved ones in incredible ways.


It has also changed the way kids and grown ups interact with technology.  Games, movies, music, social media, and texting consume a great deal of time and attention before we realize it.

So, what does all this have to do with single dads?  Well, if you are like me, you have let electronics substitute for your time and attention when other duties called.  Whether for a conference call, a chore, preparing a meal, or just getting a moment to breathe, I have let my son’s iPad play babysitter.  That babysitter keeps him quiet (unless he asks to buy another new game) and engaged so I can concentrate.

Last week, this article appeared on nytimes.com – apparently Steve Jobs strictly enforced technology rules for his kids at home.  What?  Are you kidding?  And I’m pretty sure he even got the Apple employee discount on his kids’ iPads.

The article generated several ideas about technology:

  1. Technology does not belong at meals.  On special occasions, watching a movie and eating dinner in the family room can be a blast.  But, dinner time should generally be about the family – whatever that looks like.  We play word games at the table when conversation lulls.  Try Rory’s Story Cubes, Tall Tale, or something from Family Time Fun Dinner Games.
  2. We need to limit technology time (including television) for our kids.  A quick Google search or inquiry with a therapist/pediatrician will tell you our kids watch too much television and spend too much time with their computers, phones, and tablets.  Take a few days to keep a technology log and see how much your kids actually consume.    It may shock you like it did me.  Then set limits based on professional advice and common sense.
  3. Our kids know how much screen time we use.  To us, we are simply checking our email, responding to a text message, looking up directions, posting a status update, or playing a quick game.  Our kids simply see us mind melding with our phones and ignoring them.  How many adults do you see each day walking down a sidewalk with their faces looking down at their devices?  Probably none since you are walking down a sidewalk looking at your device.  I do it, too.  And kids do not even see much of our television time…not that any of us binge watch True Detective or The Walking Dead once the kids go to sleep.
  4. We need to set an example for our kids.  My son recently had a no-screen time Friday and Saturday because he talked in class one-too-many-times during the week.  During his technology hiatus, he asked me to quit working on the computer and play with him.  What a great opportunity to connect with him in some quality roughhousing and a friendly game of checkers.

Bottom line:  do not feel guilty for letting technology entertain or educate your kids.  Do keep a close eye on what and how much they consume.

What technology challenges do you face at your home?  Do you limit screen time, and if so, what limits did you set?