Every parent struggles with screen time. Their kids’ screen time. Their own. We are all trying to figure out how to become less dependent on these devices. We want to know that we’re spending the right amount of time on them, so that we get the most out of the technology without taking it too far. We want to be confident that we’re using the technology and it’s not using us.
There’s a great word out there, though, that describes what happens when we spend too much time on our phone. Whether it’s an adult doomscrolling or a kid going down a YouTube unboxing rabbit hole, when you spend too much time staring at a device, you get screensick. You know, that insane place your kids get when you turn off the TV they were watching and the tantrums ensue. The catatonic state when they’re locked into some ridiculous cartoon, where the walls could be falling down around them and they wouldn’t even blink. The fantasy world your teenager comes to mistake for reality after too many hours on the computer in their room. And you? You know the symptoms: You’re grouchy and hate humanity after seeing too much of its underbelly on social media. You can’t pay attention to anything but your email. The phantom vibrations of the phone in your pocket steal your focus like the drip from a leaky faucet.
We can have reasonable disagreements about how much screen time is acceptable, but we all know any of that is a sign that something is wrong. The good news is it seems like a pretty easy illness to cure. A phone free day can cure it. Going outside for a couple hours can refocus your mind and reset your spirit. The bad news is, the people who made your phone and everything that goes on it know it’s an easy fix too. Which is why they’ve spent so much time and energy and money engineering ways to keep you connected to it, addicted to it.
You have to fight that. You can’t let the technology use you, you always have to be the one using it. It’s the only way to have a healthy relationship with your phone and to avoid the screensickness.