Someone take away my screen time!

Kristy realizes she needs to set a time limit on screens...not for her daughter, but for herself.

By Kristy Woudstra
Someone take away my screen time!

"Probably 11 hours." As part of his homework assignment, my step-son asked me how much time I spend in front of a screen every day. My answer was shocking to both of us (actually, I think the gamer in him was a little envious).

Sure, as a web editor, being online for eight hours a day is sort of job security. So you'd think squinting at a screen is the last thing I want to do when I get home. Au contraire.

I can easily click away hours of my time lurking around on Facebook, searching for recipes the kids won't loathe, reading international news, checking my favourite blogs...clickety, click, click, click. As the meme says: "A Pinterest minute is equivalent to 15 minutes in real time".

And then there's the TV. Until last year, when I shacked up with my then fiancé now husband, I had lived almost my entire adult life without cable. I traded in my bunny ears and 15-year-old RCA TV for his HD flat-screen and the full-enchilada cable package (HBO on demand, anyone?).

It's not that I didn't like TV. I had the opposite problem. I LOVED it. Not having cable was my cold turkey approach to avoid finding myself on the couch, mindlessly flipping through drivel way past my bedtime.

I grew up on TV. I had unlimited access. My dad's philosophy was that there was no point in going to see something (like Niagara Falls) if you could see it on TV. And when we got our Vic 20 in the 80s, my screen addiction expanded to computers.

So now I'm living in a 24-hour, high-speed, high-def, gazillion channel, PVR universe. Like a kid who has been denied candy, I've been binging on it all for months. But the party has to end.

I can't completely pull the plug, unless I want to lose my job, but I can set limits. My daughter and step-son are allowed two hours a day. So I'm going to apply the same rule to myself. And yes, this includes the weekends.

When I'm at work, I could at least stop eating lunch in front of my computer (carefully trying not to slop my leftover curry all over my keyboard). Instead, I could feed my other addiction...reading magazines. And on the subway, I could stop playing Scrabble on my phone (more magazines!).

I hope I'll be too busy with more life-fulfilling activities like playing a game with my kid or learning an instrument (ok, that's never going to happen) to even have any withdrawal symptoms. But if this doesn't work, I may have to find those bunny ears again.

This article was originally published on Jan 24, 2013

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