“I think I should call my next piece, ‘Digital Valium,’” I yell to my wife in the other room as I passionately bang away on the keys of my 13” Retina MacBook Pro.
“Sounds serious,” she says.
“Well, it is. Video games are everywhere. I’ve been Googling horror stories of addiction all day. Screen time is invading our lives! When we were kids we only had one TV and we used it for educational programming like ‘Gilligan’s Island’ and ‘The Beverly Hillbillies.’ These days, everywhere you turn there’s a screen. I can’t even answer the phone anymore without touching a screen! It’s mesmerizing and hypnotizing our kids, our society, our pets!…”
“Have you seen the way our dog stares at the iPad, growls when we try to take it away and doesn’t want to go outside and play anymore?”
“Funny,” she says.
This is a phrase I’ve learned British people use to indicate when something is not funny. If it was funny, they would actually laugh. It’s very similar to when someone is wholly disinterested in what you’re saying and they wait for a slight pause in your narrative to say, “Interesting…”
“It’s not funny,” I insist. “It’s serious. I don’t want our 9-year old’s brain turning into soggy breakfast cereal because he’s completely zombified by his iPod touch.”
“We could take it away,” she suggests.
“And have him stealing my iPhone 4S, my iPad1 & 3 or my iPad mini, or our first gen iPhone that we use to stream Pandora?! Not on your life!”
“You’re a shining example of screen abstinence.”
“Well I HAVE to have these things. It’s my business.” My 9-5 is in technology and I have every right to over-purchase the latest and greatest toys.
“Let’s see, you have 5 desktop computers for work, one MacBook Pro, 3 iPhones, 3 iPads, an iMac, an Apple TV and a giant flat screen Samsung TV for the family and you’re worried about your son’s iPod Touch? You realize you’re a phone call away from an intervention here, right?”
“Okay, okay. I got it. You’re right. I realize I’m not the best example of limiting screen time, but certain addictions are better dealt with as adults, right?”
I was losing yet another “conversation” with my wife and grasping for anything to keep myself afloat. I’ve read a few books, enough to know there really shouldn’t be “winning” and “losing” in marital arguments, but I’m pretty certain those were written by the persistent losers.
“We don’t allow our children access to alcohol, tobacco or firearms until they’re officially adults,” I said perhaps too smugly.
“And you’d like to tell our son he can only have screen time when he’s 18?”
“That would work?”
“Right,” she said.
I’ve learned that ‘right’ is one of those words that British people use…
“It’s probably too late to convert to Amish-ism, or whatever they call it. So what do we do to protect our little boy’s brain from all of this?”
“Well, I have some ideas. Would you like to share yours first?”
I hate when she does that. I was hoping to hear her ideas first so I could say, “Yes, I thought about that too, but…” No luck here. She’s called and now I have show my cards.
“Well… we could…um… [I’m stalling….Think man, think!] We could… [and then it hits me] HAVE A FAMILY MEETING!!! Yes! That’s exactly what we should do!,” I say while beaming a bit too brightly.
My wife loves family meetings and dialogue. Yes, that’s the RIGHT answer! I bet that’s exactly what she was going to say! Woo-hooo!!! Inwardly I do a little end zone, victory dance.
“That’s a wonderful idea, dear husband. And I imagine you’d like to talk about finding agreements around these devices our son is unable to avoid because there are a least three in every room in our house.”
“Yes… I… would?”
My inner celebration begins to die…
“And you’ll probably talk about modeling better behavior for your son by reading Dickens and Tolstoy instead of spending time on FaceBook, YouTube, Netflix and watching Hawaii Five O, right?”
This was going to be a rough family meeting…
I think my screen time is up.