While reading blogs on my phone at lunch yesterday, I came across "100 Things to do During Screen-Free Week" at The Non-Consumer Advocate, which seems quite timely, given my media diet I'm undertaking this week.
Screen-Free Week is "an annual, international celebration when families, schools, and communities swap digital entertainment for the joys of life beyond the screen." It seems to be aimed mostly at families with children.
My History with Screens
I was born in 1972 and the only screen we had was the television, which my parents didn't let my brother and I watch during the first couple years of our lives. According to my mom, when she began wishing we'd just sit down and watch, we weren't interested. We're only 11 months apart, so I'm sure we drove her crazy. My dad brought home an Apple II at some point in the early '80's, convinced (and rightly so) that we would need to know how to use a computer if we were going to be successful.
We loved that computer, of course, and every other electronic toy we had, including my brother's 2-XL, which played 8-tracks. But we spent most of our time on other activities, mainly running around outside and tormenting each other.
But by the time I was in the 6th grade, I had a steady diet of sitcoms I watched every night, and that continued through high school. It wasn't until I got to college that I gave up the screen habit again.
At that point, for reasons I don't completely understand now, I didn't even like email, but in the early '90s, email wasn't so easy to use.
When I gave up television in college, I gave it up completely, as in gave away the television itself. My motivation then was that I rarely watched it, got distracted during commercials and forgot to go back to it, and was chronically frustrated because I had no idea how the shows I started watching ending. I've lived with roommates who had televisions three times since then, but I didn't watch much.
There's no television in my house, and I rarely play computer games, but I'm often using my laptop or playing with my phone. Too often, as measured by the dropping number of books I've read in recent years.
When I mentioned what I would be giving up, which is my phone at lunch and my phone and laptop at bedtime, I think I left out what I would keep, which is my morning email reading. I can't give up the screen completely for two reasons: 1) I've got some books listed for sale on Amazon and I need to know when they sell, on the day that they sell, and 2) this blog.
While I won't be giving up the screen completely, dropping those afternoon and evening uses will greatly reduce the amount of time I waste with screens. In the morning, I'm motivated to move on to other things, but at lunch and at night, I will keep trying to find things to look at, even when there is nothing interesting to see.
I do have an idea for a "no reading" of any sort week, which I did once about 20 years ago and found very interesting, but I'm not there yet. Maybe I'll undertake that next time this category comes around. I could do all photos on the blog, posted from my phone, with no words, and suspend sales on Amazon.
Hopefully, I'll replace with screen time with reading. Since there are no children involved, I don't think I'll need to refer to the list of 100 things to do instead, although there are plenty of good ideas there.
Here's what I've done so far:
I put the old alarm clock on my side of the bed and set it for the time I need to get up tomorrow morning.
I gathered up all the books I've started this year and stacked them by the bed, which was kinda awesome, because usually I'm trying to get all the books I'm not reading out of the bedroom.
I'm going to pick out a book to take to work to read on lunches. I'm not sure what I'll take yet, but I know from experience it can't be anything too difficult or I won't read it.
And I've designated a space for charging my phone overnight, since it won't be in the bedroom.
How do you feel about your use of screen-time, or your children's use of screens? Have you done anything to curtail it or encourage different uses?
Week 36: Social - Media Diet (and Read More Books)