I’ve been having too much “screen time” at home, so I’m adding one more screen to solve the problem

by Jeff Hilimire on June 23, 2014

There’s an on-going struggle at my house to get my children to use less screen time (iPads or iPhones, TV, or video games). My wife actually does an amazing job keeping the kids our circus at bay with this and from what I can tell, their screen time is below the average. However, its still too much and I realized recently – because my wife told me – that I am a bad influence on them with the amount of time I was spending on a device.

My main problem is that I read on my phone or tablet. A lot. Sure, I do my fair share of email and gaming on those devices but at least half of my time is spent reading. Books or Pocket articles mostly. And I try not to be too engaged with my phone when we’re doing something as a family, but when there is any downtime I immediately grab my phone. And then they want to play electronics because dad is.

My first thought was, ok, I’ll start buying real books and reading those. And I did. I bought Ready Player One, a book about video games (#irony), and while I’m almost done reading it I just can’t bring myself to buy another actual paperback book. I can’t read it in the dark! I can’t read it if I’m stuck in the doctors office because I won’t have it with me! And I can’t look up words or references immediately online! It’s like being in the dark ages :)

So, to solve my problem of using electronics too much at home, I’m buying one more piece of technology: the Kindle Paperwhite. But the key is, I sat my kids down and showed them that on the Paperwhite, all daddy can do is read. I can’t play games. I can’t watch video. I can’t “work”. It’s like holding a book in my hands. The theory is – and we’ll see if it plays out this way – that they will see me with that device and understand I’m reading and reading alone, which is something we promote in our household.

While that is the #1 reason I’m doing this, I do think its going to have side benefits for me personally. Not having email or “work” or Netflix or video games one click away at any moment will help me stay more focused and be more engaged. And I’ll likely read a lot more, which is one of my big goals.

Side note: One of the things that pushed me over the edge was realizing that I can add my Pocket articles sent automatically to my Kindle via this service. So far its worked like a charm.

  • http://unpunctuatedlife.com/ Laura Lindeman

    I love my Kindle Paperwhite! I was a hardcore “real book only” kind of girl, but my husband felt confident enough that I would like a Kindle (despite my protests) that he bought me one for my birthday a couple of years ago, and I haven’t looked back. If you love books it’s so much better because you can have a lot at your fingertips all at once!

  • greghorowitz

    I was laughing as I read this. Until a few months ago, I didn’t have a tablet, and my three-year old was obsessed with my wife’s iPad. Meanwhile, he did occasionally like to play with my Kindle 3G, but only to do “numbers”, which is what he called randomly pressing buttons on the keyboard.

    Then, I had to get a Google tablet for work, but as far as he knows, it’s Daddy’s “work Kindle”, and it has no games on it. I figure eventually he’ll catch me playing Scramble with Friends on it and the gig will be up, but for now he’s blissfully unaware.

    Back to your main point, I really love the forced uni-tasking of the Kindle. I find it so much easier to get distracted when I’m reading on my tablet. Oh, and reading longform articles on the Kindle is fantastic, other than the minor annoyances of having to have a wi-fi connection in order to avoid paying for downloads, and not having any recourse if the article doesn’t render properly.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    I’ve started using the “Send to Kindle” chrome extension so now when I see an article I want to read, I’m hitting that and it automatically ends up on my Kindle. Pretty cool.

  • greghorowitz

    Right, but you still need wi-fi to transfer (unless you want to pay per article), plus there can be a lag of a few minutes before it shows up on your Kindle. Not a huge deal, but considering I usually load up a bunch of articles right before I leave work and get on the subway, it means I have to plan ahead a little and not wait until the last minute.

  • http://www.jeffhilimire.com Jeff Hilimire

    Yup, that’s true.

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