Growth Spurts: In Defense of Screen Time
I’ll be the first to admit that the overabundance of screens in our lives can have a damaging effect on our families. We so easily become distracted by and addicted to them, and the tendency is for each person to be glued to their own device. This is particularly detrimental to opportunities for togetherness as families.
Something we try to stress in my family is: “Be with who you’re with.” The grammar nerds in our household choose to ignore the fact that this motto ends in a preposition and just go with it, because it’s such a good reminder to us! It doesn’t matter if we are with family, friends, or just acquaintances–we want to be with who we’re with, to be present in the moment. It can be a battle for all of us to ignore our phones, especially if the current “real life” company or scenario is not particularly engaging. But it is an important discipline that is founded in just basic politeness toward others.
Okay, so that’s the brief synopsis of the potential downfalls of screen time within our families’ lives. Now let’s talk about how screen time can actually be a uniting element in family time.
There are certain YouTube series that appeal to my whole family–particularly to our senses of humor. Some of our favorites are Bored Shorts/Kid Snippets, Miranda Sings, How It Should Have Ended, Bad Lip Reading, Honest Trailers, Tim Hawkins, and Jim Gaffigan. We laugh so hard at these, and it is something we enjoy all together. My son Caleb usually keeps us alerted to the newest videos and makes sure we see them. All five of us quote and make references to the videos almost daily, which is actually a fun bonding experience for us. Sometimes we don’t even have to finish the sentence before everyone starts laughing.
We have had similar experiences with television series. Our most recent, um, obsession, was “Psych.” We were late to the party with this show, as we just heard of it for the first time a few months ago. In the beginning, we watched it leisurely but somewhat faithfully. Then one day the dreaded news came…The show would be taken off of Netflix on October 1st. We found ourselves in crunch time and committed way too many hours to accomplishing the task of finishing the series before the deadline. We were devoted to our mission and sacrificed many dinners around the family table for the cause. We did it together. We were victorious. And our funny bones thanked us for it.
What else brings my family around a common screen? Football (both real and Fantasy), “America’s Got Talent,” Facebook posts by extended family members and friends, and good ol’ family movie nights. Screen-related activities are not all we do together, but we have found that we do enjoy this shared activity.
So yes, it is easy to become a family divided by multiple screens, but it is also pretty easy to find ways to be together around one screen for some family bonding time. Whether it’s comedy, sports, music, classic movies, or something else, find something you and your family can all enjoy together. Be just as intentional with your leisure and entertainment time as you are with other aspects of your family’s time.
Carrie Bevell Partridge has fond childhood memories of gathering around the TV with her family to watch shows like “Little House on the Prairie” and “The Cosby Show.”