OBSERVATIONS · slice of life · technology

Reflections on Screen Free Week

Hi.  My name is Stacey and I’m addicted to technology.  I check my iPhone too often.  I am on my computer way too much.  I do not know how to unplug unless G-d commands me to do so.

My neighbor planted strawberries for Isabelle. I taught her how to water her strawberry plant, as well as the herbs in my herb garden, last week.
My neighbor planted strawberries for Isabelle. I taught her how to water her strawberry plant, as well as the herbs in my herb garden, last week.

This pretty much sums up my “Screen Free Week,” which I knew couldn’t be devoid of screens since I needed to prepare for a professional development session I’m leading tomorrow.  In addition, going off the grid for an entire week is really challenging in the 21st century.  Though I did have some successes.  They were:

  • I watched very little television all week.  In fact, I stretched every morning without turning on the television.  Thankfully the weather was nice so I got to listen to the birds chirping.
  • I read more books to my daughter after nap time since “Sesame Street” was not an option.
  • I spent more time outside with my daughter.  [One day we went outside three times (each time we were out for about an hour). ]  I even taught her how to do some weeding!
  • I read almost all of Word Nerds, which is one of the most fantastic books about teaching vocabulary to elementary school students.  It’s written by inner city school teachers, which might be the reason I connected with it so much.  I’m looking forward to reviewing it on Two Writing Teachers soon.
  • I resisted the temptation to click on breaking news alerts every time they appeared on my iPhone.  Though watching them was a way to keep me connected to the world since I wasn’t watching the morning news shows or the evening news.
  • I previewed a lot review copies of picture books that had been piling up in my office.
  • I stayed off of Facebook and Twitter.

There were some low points to the week:

  • TVs were on in medical offices.  Thankfully, I had a book with me so I tried to tune it out as much as possible.
  • 40 minutes on an elliptical rider is a long time.  I turned on the TV each time I got on the elliptical this week.  I felt as though I were naughty for watching “Martin Bashir” and “House Hunters,” but I had to do it to keep myself moving.
  • I realized I check my phone too often.  Even though I said I’d only check email three times a day, I checked it more often.  I don’t think this is about self-importance.  It’s almost like a nervous habit.

I couldn’t truly unplug last week, even though I wanted to. It feels reasonable for me to put a vacation message on my e-mail when it’s Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, or Passover and I stay away from screens for religious reasons.  I didn’t feel as though I could put a vacation message on my e-mail for Screen Free Week.

My semi-unplugged week made me realize I need to find more ways to unplug and not just when G-d commands me to do so.  Reducing screen time in the 21st century is really tough.  (Apparently, I’m not alone in this struggle.  Click here to read an article by Nina Badzin who is trying to reduce her iPhone usage.)  However, if I want to continue to notice moments like the time my daughter “read aloud” to her stuffed animals, then it’s incumbent upon me to find ways to become less attached to the technology that holds such a strong grip on me.

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14 thoughts on “Reflections on Screen Free Week

  1. This is great, Stacey. What I’m finding is that black/white goals or attempts do not work for me, which is why I’m trying to find pockets of time to make phone free instead of entire days and nights. I also am ONLY focusing on the phone and not ALL screens which makes it more bearable. I don’t watch a lot of TV anyway. For me–it’s ALL about the phone!

  2. Stacey,
    I love this idea…but have to agree with Nina. The all or nothing thing is tough because so I read and write on the screen…so for me the question becomes…what screen time do I need to lessen?
    And I could not agree more that the checking of the phone almost has become a nervous twitch. Even when there isn’t anything there.
    Thank you for these thoughts…much to think about here!
    Tomasen

  3. Balance is key when we are working and not unplugging completely because of holidays or vacations. I do unplug at least once a year when I go away on vacation. But have not been able to totally unplug during a week when I am home and working. I think you reached a very nice balance, Stacey!

  4. Your post made be think back to the days when my kids were little – no Facebook or iphone or Twitter then! I think these things are wonderful for learning and sharing – but they do present dangers for parents of the young. I’ve seen too many parents on their iphones at the playground, disengaged from their kids. The push and pull of technlogy is a daily challenge for me – with three kids scattered around the world, I check it frequently. And I know I could not give that up! And bravo that you got Isabelle out weeding – strange as it may sound, we did a lot of bonding over weeding time back in the day!

  5. Your confession at the beginning made me laugh. How can one not be connected to some kind of a screen these days. I just wonder how far it will go and what will it be like in five years. So much changes so quickly. Your time with Isabelle is precious and I know you realize it. You do spend your time wisely.

  6. I really think about this a lot as well. I don’t even have an iPhone or even texting service because I know that I am already bad enough with just Internet at home with checking email too much. I even almost sliced about that today. Maybe it will be a future slice.

  7. I like the way you reflected on the highs and lows of your experiences. TV would be my challenge. I have it on a lot just for background noise… and I must admit, I have a lot of “favorite” shows I like to watch.

    Here’s an ironic note… I read and LOVED Word Nerds, too. I read it online, on the Publisher’s website, where you can preview it, in its entirety.

  8. At least you were brave enough to try! I saw everyone posting about this and decided I didn’t feel like trying… I love the idea though, and I love the sincerity of your reflection. TV, email, Twitter would be the hardest for me, although I’m really pretty good about not checking my phone for alerts. I definitely want to try a week like this sometime!

  9. Stacey, I am also addicted to my phone. It I hear it beep, I always check to see what it is. The worst part is when I check when I haven’t heard a beep. Sounds like you had an interesting week.

  10. You mention something that resonates with me here: “it’s almost a nervous habit.” YES. And I’m wondering (personally) if working on that issue is more important than unplugging. Maybe WHY we’re plugged in is an important part of determining how we should unplug?

  11. Stacey,
    All of this reminds me of the book Goodnight iPad! The whole rabbit family is addicted to every piece of technology on the planet…it’s hard these days to go without when there’s an app for nearly everything under the sun! Thanks for your honest reflections on how the week went for you…glad you got some quality one on one time with Isabelle!

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