This Christmas we bought our children tablets. This March, I took them away. It wasn’t because our children were abusing them. With the restrictions we set up, that was hardly possible. Still, in 8 weeks I am certain I saw a change in their personality.
Chances are some of that change came with their unrelenting growth. Perhaps I played a role in it as well. But I am certain most of it resulted from the screens. So, we took them away. And yes, they grumbled about being bored. Of course, they fought with one another a bit more. Naturally, Santa is the hero who brought the tablet and I am the villain who took it away.
But I have no regrets.
(And full disclosure, by day 2 of the quarantine I was already ready to give them their tablets back! That said, they are still tablet free.)
I’m not the kind of person who thinks there is one right way to parent. I’m not the kind of parent who thinks I do everything right. Farthest thing from it. Also, this is not a ranting post about how kids need to play outside. Instead, I share that because considering screens’ effect on my children made me question whether or not screens were having an effect on me.
In this time of social distancing, screens rule. We sing their praises. We laud their ability to let us meet in our pjs. Even at church, we are taking the physical reality of worshiping together and streaming into living rooms. And I am grateful to live in a world where technology makes all of that possible. But I hope that we also continue to hold that in tension with whole.
If we knew limiting screen time was important before social distancing, I hope we can continue to remind ourselves of it now. In fact, in this time of uncertainty and fear, we may need a break from our screens now more than ever.
These are difficult days, and we all find ways to cope. Screens make us feel connected, but sometimes they don’t. Do not neglect to care for the parts of yourself that need both physical connection and communion with others and the world as well as still moments with yourself. My friend’s son kicking a soccer ball to his friend across the street on Long Island (no hands), the scene at the village park, and the masses talking good-walks-gone-bad around golf courses reminds me that there are still ways for us to actually be together un-virtually.
We will get through this.
You will get through this.
Because we are not alone.
Not even in the confines of our own homes.
Take care of yourself.
Take care of each other.