7 Jul
Posted in: Giggles
By    1 Comment

Do You LIKE Me?

Right now, I’m sitting in a quiet house.

This almost never happens.  As a matter of fact, the silence is so heavy that it is actually pressing in on my ears and making them hum.  Not even the dogs are moving.  It’s eerie.

So, I did what any normal person in this situation would do…I reached for my phone.

Over the past few days, the noise level in my house has been significantly reduced.  I have one kid visiting family in another state, another kid away for the week at summer camp, and the oldest away on daily excursions with his girlfriend, who has recently acquired her driver’s license.  My house is still.

As I reached for my phone to check the activity on some of my recent posts to my social media pages, I took a quick mental health inventory: I was suddenly feeling depressed and disappointed.

What is going on?

I have an empty house.  I should be doing back-flips at the thought of NOT being summoned or called upon to chauffeur anyone anywhere in the last week.  My husband and I have had the house completely to ourselves for nearly a week…this is awesome news.  We like being around each other for quality uninterrupted alone time (if you catch my drift).  Why, then, when I picked up my phone, did I feel down?

Allow me to shed some light on this subject.

Is anyone out there familiar with the chemical dopamine?  It is the “feel good” chemical that your brain releases when something good happens to you.  Your brain sends little jolts of this stuff when someone praises you, gives you a hug, sends you a smile, etc. It is a small yet, mighty chemical.  Once you find something that gives you this sort of feeling, you will do almost anything to reproduce its feeling.  Consequently, it is also similar to the effects of heroin.  The dopamine “high” is extremely addictive, just like a street drug.  When you don’t get it, you continue to look for it…you crave it…you need it…

Which brings me back to my phone…Some of my posts were not performing as well as I had hoped.

You see, I post regularly on social media (probably not as often as my publicist would like, but as often as I would like to).  I check in to see which of my post are performing well.  I get excited to see who LIKES which post, which post does well, which one does not.  I get excited to see the videos get the most attention.  My dopamine levels increase.  I find myself checking in with my phone more often that I probably should; especially if/when I’m bored.

This made me think of my kids.

They are ALWAYS on their screens.  Pick a screen: TV, computer, iPad, iPhone…Dealer’s Choice.  Because the summer is in full swing, screen time occupies more time than usual.  My youngest is especially susceptible to becoming a screen zombie.  I notice the dark circles under his eyes, and his vacant chair at the lunch table.  I can hear my parenting critics now: “Just take the screens away.”  “Be the parent.”  “Put time restrictions on your kid.”

Gee, thanks.

I had not thought of any of those options.  I feel SO much better as a parent now.  Problem of screens dominating my kids’ lives is completely gone now.

Here’s the problem with all of those nuggets of solid gold parenting gems.  They’re crap.

Remember the chemical dopamine?  It behaves in our brains much like heroin.  It is highly addictive.  Now, granted, my child will most likely not go into anaphylactic shock if he comes back from camp and all of his screens are gone, but he will have some form of withdrawal.  The biggest problem with screen addiction is not having a replacement for them.  When we were kids, we actually played outside.  I’ll pause for the gasp that comes with that.  Think about that concept for a second.

We played outside…with other kids.

We don’t do that anymore.  Part of the reason our kids don’t play outside is because they can’t–unfortunately, we live in a different world today, than we were kids.  Our kids’ world is not safe.  Thirty years ago, it was.  Now, if you as the parent want to go play outside with them, be my guest.  Please send me pictures.  But, the biggest reason our kids turn into screen zombies the fact they are over-scheduled.  Our kids now have scheduled playdates, at supervised play-places.  They are in coached activities: baseball, soccer, gymnastics, ballet, hip-hop, and any other thing you can think of except imaginative play that involves bicycles, water hoses and scraped knees.

In order for our kids to live screen-free lives, WE need to live a more screen-free life.  Are you willing to do that?  We need to be more involved with our kids’ lives.  It is so much easier to put them in front of a TV or hand them a smart phone, so that we can finish a conversation or grab a quick workout or even a shower.  I get it.  I have three kids.  I know about busy.  But are we too busy being busy to notice that our kids are growing up without the ability to even effectively communicate with the people around them?  Have you talked to your child today?

There is so much more to holding a legit conversation than 140 characters.  Do they know that?  Do they know that not everyone is going to LIKE them?  Are we raising a generation of so completely self-absorbed people that think and truly believe that their worth is wrapped up in how many likes they can get on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter?  I hope not.

We have rehab centers all over the world to help people who are addicted to drugs…drugs like heroin…drugs that are mind altering.  Our screens effectively are doing the same thing to our children.  Screens transport our kids to worlds that are not real and make them see and believe things are not true…in effect, releasing a chemical in their brains that is mind altering.

We as their parents, need to stand in the gap to make sure their feet stay planted in reality.  Do they know their worth?  Do they know they are smart, funny, kind and beautiful?  Do they know how incredible they are regardless of society claims beauty is?  I am not a perfect parent.  All of my kids have way too much access to way too many screens.  I am not preaching to anyone.  My heart hurts for the kids and families that get hurt every day because too much power was given by access from a screen.  Don’t let a device have so much control over you or your family that you forget who you are.

It’s summer!  Go swimming.  Go on a picnic.  Go camping or RV’ing!  Leave the screens behind.  If you want pictures, go buy a Polaroid camera and watch the fun develop right before your eyes!  Enjoy your kids.

Here’s hoping today is LIKEable!


1 Comment

  • One of your best yet! We all need to hear this…even grandparents. Words of wisdom to be sure!

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