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Daddy Talk: Flashy Little Rectangles

Daddy Talk: Flashy Little Rectangles

I’ve probably written a column about this topic before, but the force of my subject merits another one. I am continually amazed by my kids’ supernatural ability to hyper-focus…whenever they are watching a TV show or playing a video game. Certainly, our house is not the exception on this, right? If there’s a screen in front of them, don’t even try to engage. Don’t ask how they’re doing. Don’t ask how school was. Don’t ask if they’re hungry. They can’t even hear you, let alone monitor their bodies’ basic needs.

Even though my wife and I are so concerned about our kids turning into zombies when confronted with glowing rectangles, we somehow reasoned that a new Nintendo Switch would be a good Christmas present. What were we thinking? I guess now at least there’s some intentional interactions between the two kids who happen to be playing a game at the same time.

Fortunately, through the years, we’ve tried to establish some minimal screen boundaries in our house. For example, we do allow some time right when the kids get home from school when they may watch TV or play a video game. But even that short timeframe of “detoxing” from the school day is not without its risks. This very week, the boys got home one day, helped themselves to a bowl of ice cream that was left over from a birthday party, and then proceeded to play a game on the Nintendo. When my wife arrived home a few minutes later, the rest of the ice cream had melted all over the kitchen counter.

In another instance of unawareness, the boys were watching a show when a friend came by to drop off some items at our house after school. She knocked a few times, but when no one answered she used the entry code to open the door and walked into the living room. Thinking that no one was home, she was surprised to see our kids watching a show on TV. She asked them a few questions but didn’t get any complete answers, so she walked out, locking the door behind her. I sometimes wonder what amount of disruption would have to happen in order for the trance to be broken. Earthquake? Bears running through the kitchen? Chasm opening up and swallowing the entire house into the earth?

To add yet another screen into the mix, my wife recently discovered various block puzzles that can be downloaded to our phones and tablets. Intrigued by one of these games where you try to complete full lines of blocks using various shaped pieces, I ended up downloading the app to my phone.

So lest you think I consider myself somehow “above” the temptation of the bright, shiny quadrilaterals, try to catch me after the kids go to sleep, or during my morning coffee, or waiting in the check-out line…basically any place where we are accustomed to seeing people with phones nowadays. I used to take some bit of pride in not being the person who yanked the phone out of his pocket as soon as I had a free second. But, now, here I am, sliding blocks around. Honestly, I had better delete this app before I become so disengaged that all of the frozen goods in our home thaw out and ruin on the counter.

 

Tim Krason plays block puzzles in Clinton, MS.

About The Author

Tim Krason

Tim Krason grew up in Tupelo, MS, and settled in the Jackson area after studying at Mississippi College. He has been married to Ashley for 10 years, and they live in Clinton with their three children. Tim teaches English at Hinds Community College in Raymond and has been writing the Daddy Talk column for several years.

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