Confessions from a Tech Junkie — Family Device-Free Day

Starting next week we are launching device-free Sundays in my house.

I started this challenge planning to write letters to my 11-year old daughter. But, immediately hit a brick wall, the kind 45 wants to build but this one was working. But I’ve been experiencing some real writer’s angst about not being able to write anything. So I’m changing it up a bit. My goal for this challenge is to get into the habit of writing again. In hopes that I can get back to writing on my blog and my new Adventures in UX magazine here on Medium. With the ultimate goal of adapting one of my screenplays into a novel.

Today’s topic of choice (or rant) is about electronic devices and how they are over-used in my house. I will admit it now, I’m part of the problem. But my kids are driving me crazy with these phones!

Last year, there was an amazing family deal with T-Mobile so we jumped on it and ended up with new phones for the entire family. If I could reverse time and take back that decision (and many others) I would.

I should explain that I was (am) a tech blogger so technology has been our house since before the kids were born. My son knew his way around an iPad at two-years old. I reviewed all sorts of devices and often let the kids check them out as well. So they are comfortable around technology. After we could no longer update our old iPhone 4 devices we fell for the trap that T-mobile set for us.

Now on a typical weekend my son will sit in his room playing Minecraft on one screen while watching Minecraft videos on the other. All while watching a TV show on Netflix. (I can feel the bad parenting comments flowing in).

Then in the next room my daughter will be watching youtube videos of one of her favorite personalities. Listening to a bunch of 11–12 year olds making videos on youtube is exhausting.

They listen and play games on their phones in the car, try to sneak them in at the dinner table and even take them into the bathroom to listen to in the shower.

Yesterday my daughter sent me a text message from her room asking for a pear. She was less then 20 steps away. That is when I decided something needed to change. To be clear, I’ve been saying this for months but now it’s time to take action.

I realized the main reason why I wasn’t yanking those phones away from my kids is because I’m addicted to mine as well. The nagging was going to be to horrendous to put up with if I was on my phone and they weren’t allowed to use theirs.

But now I’m craving a device free day. I’ve reached the peaks of busyness and want a way out. I want a day where I’m not a slave to emails, Facebook comments and text messages. I want a 45-free day, where I don’t wonder what awful thing will come next in his presidency. I want a day where my kids spend time creating things instead of watching things. I want a day where we are talking to each other instead of commenting on each others Instagram posts (yes we are that family).

Our device-free day starts this Sunday. But I can’t yank the phones without setting up some rules and guidelines.

  • A phone and/or device can be used to navigate to travel destinations.
  • A phone can be used if you are lost and separated from the group.
  • A phone can be used if there is no other camera at your disposal to capture the adventures of the day.
  • A phone can be used for emergency purposes.
  • A phone will not be used to play games or watch youtube or Netflix videos
  • A phone can be used in its original form as a phone that you use to talk to someone with you voice.
  • A phone can be used if you need to get information (grocery list, event locations, etc.)
  • A phone or device can be used until mom and dad wake up.
  • A phone can be used if you are running or exercising.

The more I imagine this device-free day the more excited I am. I’m sure the rest of my family will disagree. Now I need to find something fun for us to do!