A few days ago, I figured out how much time I spend in front of a computer screen per day. The results weren’t pretty. For many people, the amount of time spent in front of a screen (be it a computer screen, television screen, e-reader screen, smart phone screen, or handheld video game console screen) can be shocking. After all, most people use computers for their line of work. Even students use computers for almost any class imaginable now, whether it’s a game for improving math skills or a word processor for typing a paper. People of all ages now check their e-mails, Facebooks, and other social media sites constantly. We are a plugged-in culture, and it isn’t just for working or staying connected. Electronic media also serves as a form of recreation. Whether it’s watching Cupcake Wars on The Food Network or playing a game of Solitaire on the computer, using plugged-in technologies for fun means that we spend even more time on the grid.
When I hear about people who plan to go off the grid, I usually smirk to myself. Luddites, I think to myself, and wonder at the practicality of such an experiment. What are these people trying to prove, exactly? In some ways, aren’t they like the cave people who refused to use fire when it was first introduced? Technology is an integral part of our society today, and not being connected isn’t really a viable option anymore. I certainly applaud those who try to limit their exposure (indeed, I should probably be doing the same), but to totally unplug? That’s foolish.
I’m all about finding alternatives to computers, televisions, and other such things. A family game of Scrabble is an excellent substitute for Words With Friends, and sitting around a campfire sharing ghost stories is preferable to watching a scary movie on television. However, there has to be balance. If you want to limit your screen time and your child’s screen time, I certainly encourage you to. Find other things that are going on in your community! Make your own fun! However, I would suggest first using the internet to connect and get some great ideas.