Are We Really “Off” on a Snow Day☃️…Weekend😎…Vacation🌴?

Does a true day “off” necessitate no phone use? How about if I don’t use social media but still text throughout the day? Am I resting? Having fun? Keeping my body healthy? I asked myself these questions and if I’m being honest, a true day off for me would mean no phone and no computer. Both keep my head down, body sedentary and don’t permit real conversation. I like keeping my head up, prefer to be active and love good conversation.

The reality is, we work on computers and even if we don’t use social media, phones connect us to our loved ones and are useful in emergencies. They are also dang handy for taking notes and making lists.

We all know how phones decrease our attention span, provide a false sense of accomplishment after scrolling (similar to having completed an actual task), and that screens are literally engineered to keep us looking. Yet, we have trouble putting them down.

With 23 states engulfed in brutal cold this week, it led to countless school and company closings. What I observed in my frozen little corner of the universe were several people granted a “day off” by their employer (not a “work from home” day) but still received texts about nonsense that really could have waited until we were plowed out. We’re not talking about organ transplant surgery or even a customer really needing assistance. We’re talking about useless, unproductive texting that forced more than one person to be on their phones all day. Without cell phones, employers wouldn’t feel as comfortable calling via a land line 12 times in five hours.

I knew of a few children who spent three straight days gaming and teens who remained couch bound, attached to their social media. No board games, books, conversation nor baking cookies. Instead, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter and so on fully consumed their days “off”.

“And it turns out that Americans check their work emails just as often as they do social media even while on vacation. The average American will check their work emails, Facebook, and Instagram nine times a day as they soak up the sun.” Source.

Research has proven social isolation, addiction, decreased attention span/inability to focus, and increased sadness are associated with media use. But, it’s not only the social media and constant distraction that hurts us. (And by “us” I mean adults, not only kids and teenagers.)

General cell phone use has been researched and subsequently led scientists to report, “adverse health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns”. (Source) Could it be related to the “minimal amount” of radiofrequency radiation emitting from our devices? For every claim that they cause no or little physical harm, there is another story claiming they do.

Snow days, vacation and days off work used to be openings for creating life memories-not watching what everyone else was doing. They tended to promote “healthier” days. If we allow it, electronics rob us of those much-needed breaks and real joys.

I’m going to periodically use my phone on days off, but I’m not attached. I crave tech-free time. I’m going to make a concerted effort to have snow days that are phone-free fun – like they were when the kids were little. I have plenty of my own ideas, but if you need some, (HGTV has a list of “Adult Snow Days” ideas.)

Having been drawn into studying this topic a bit this week, I’m going into this weekend only using my phone for communication with the kids. This way, I believe it will truly be time “off”!

But first, I need to close this lap top…

Happy Weekend to all!!

 

 

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We are Parenting PIONEERS

“We” would be those of us who were the very first average citizens to log on to the new thing called aol.com back in the late 1990s on our clunky PCs. “We” are largely in our late 40s and early 50s with teenagers or young adult children. “We” are those who were the first parents EVER in world-history to hand our children their first flip phones.We are the pioneers parenting the electronic world. And, people, this has been no easy task.

When we were kids, our parents could lift up the receiver in another room to tell us to get off the phone because grandma was supposed to call. Now, teenagers are often alone, metal square in hand, laptop on the bed, tv screen above the bed, Xbox in the corner and wireless blue tooth speaker on the nightstand with no parental involvement at all. Social media and cell phones alone are two titanic, behemoth elements of parenting that make those of us middle-aged parents the PIONEERS of the world. We were and are expected to teach and manage these issues on top of our traditional parenting and vocational responsibilities.The 1970s-1980s kids we were (not all but most):

We couldn’t wait to get outside every day

Kids of parents who were not at our beck and call

Kids of parents who made us save money for our purchases

The 2000s kids we’re raising (not all but most):

Enjoy being indoors in front of a screen

Have parents at their beck and call…sports, activities, projects

Have parents who pay for their cell phones every monthI’ve previously posted a couple articles about these issues: How Long Can a Mom Monitor Kids’ Media? Is 17 years too long? :), and Teenage Privacy…Is it OK to spy on your teens’ texts? Internet history? Surf their social media? Yep!. There have been humorous moments managing these issues with my kids over the years (as you’ll read in those articles), but It Has Been Exhausting Being The Pioneer. The level of expectations has risen and we’ve fallen right into it.

We are not only pioneers of electronics but pioneers of “talks” that our parents never dreamed of having with us. After-school conversations regarding gender confusion and standing up for your faith yet being respectful of others are draining. All previous parenting generations throughout history had no such thoughts, let alone were forced to engage in ongoing dialogue of explanation and navigation. Add some social media management, and we just want to go take a nap. It all feels so overwhelming, many parents throw in the towel and just say, “it is what it is”.

Never in world-history have there been so many pressures upon parents. There have never been higher rates of teenage depression, street-drug use, pharmaceutical use, health issues related to teenage inactivity and one of the culprits of all of these: never in history has there been such an excessive, profound, uncontainable problem of teenagers comparing themselves with random internet photography. Whether Snapchat, Instagram, internet images of the Hollywood elites or the girl next door, these images are seldom real.Even when you inform kids that the actresses in movies and television have a 6-week prep ahead of body conditioning prior to every single award show and red-carpet event, followed by another week-long last minute prep including hours of hair, spray tanning and makeup, they still want, wish and crave to be the image. Battling this is a whole other article perhaps another time.

The next time you find yourself exhausted or sad or overwhelmed by the work required in raising a moral, responsible, thinking child, remind yourself that you’re not alone. It’s worth the effort to monitor, to question, to require verbal conversation and limit electronics.

There are millions of us out there who are walking the walk alongside you, being very unpopular at home when needed, running the race in faith and keeping our eye on the end result, not seeking the temporary ease of intentional ignorance.  Be strong, fellow pioneers! Someday your kids will be better off because of your involvement.