I go to bed, say at 10.30 PM, my husband looks like he will also fall asleep soon (very deceptive), I sleep instantly and then wake up with a jolt at about midnight to see him awake, watching TV, or reading something on his phone or both.
Me: What happened, you’re not feeling sleepy? I thought you were.
Mr. P: No, not able to sleep.
Me: Why don’t you try turning off the TV and phone and just closing your eyes? Sleep will automatically come.
Mr. P: Hmmm
I turn around and fall asleep again. I hear him snore lightly, sneak the remote from his hands, turn off the TV and put the remote away. He wakes up, gives me a stare and turns it back on. I sleep off…add another hour or so and I wake up again…and guess who is still up, glued to the TV/phone? Yes, my husband.
Me: You’re still up? Please turn off the TV and sleep. You have to get up in a few hours.
Mr. P (grunts): HMMM
I give up!
This has become a regular conversation, especially over the past few months. I know he has a tough time falling asleep, but the blue and white lights from these screens aren’t helping him in anyway, and that’s my point. I have, on multiple occasions, shared my gyan on why it is important to have a sleep routine for overall health. Who listens!!! His high-tech remedy? He advises me to use an eye mask and he connects his Bluetooth earphones to the TV, so that the sounds don’t bother me.
I was under the impression that only my husband was addicted to his screens, but over the pandemic my mother chipped in with complaints about my father. His case is different; he barely watches TV and usually reads before falling asleep. His maximum screen time is during the day, when he is on the phone, tablet, or computer. Amma says that he is engrossed in them for the longest periods of time, during which anything she says falls on deaf ears… He is either a little hard of hearing (I think he is) or he simply pretends to be lost in his world and not hear my mother… or maybe it is a combination of both. We’ll know when he responds to this post :-). Amma uses her phone mainly for WhatsApp and for listening to slokams (prayers) and discourses. According to my father, her phone has traces of kumkum, haldi, oil, ghee and maybe some masalas because she carries the phone around everywhere. But when we make fun of her phone usage, she becomes very defensive and denies everything vehemently… but we know 🙂
From adults guilty of increased screen time, let’s move to kids who have now been forced to spend more hours in front of computers and tablets. There are those who resort to their iPads or phones to distract their kids and there are also those who try their best to restrict their children’s screen time. Either way, they have all now been forced to increase the time spent in front of screens due to online schooling. I am sure the kids aren’t enjoying this type of an increase. Well, I shouldn’t generalize because I know of one child who (at least on the day of this incident) seemed to be very sincere about his online sessions. We were on a video call with a cousin, whose 7-year old son was attending his classes online. She walked into the room so that we could say Hi to him, he said Hi and immediately added, “Don’t disturb, I am in my class.” In most cases though, children and teachers are having a tough time coping with this change. A very close family friend is an elementary school teacher in India and she has been going through a really tough time preparing videos and presentations for her students. Not only has Aunty been working longer hours than usual, but she even has Uncle fully occupied these days. There were days when she even had her daughters involved for an international collaboration.
By now you all must be thinking, “This girl has been talking about everyone else, has even taken this opportunity to complain publicly about Mr. P, but what about her? How good is she about restricting her own screen time?” It is a very valid question. Whenever I approach my husband about this, he always retorts that I have the same or a more severe addiction. I reluctantly accept it sometimes, but mostly I deny the allegation. So let’s analyze my screen time. My phone monitors my screen time and gives me the statistics on every Sunday. I have seen good weeks, bad weeks and then some off the charts weeks. In my defense, I use my phone mostly for social media and for photography. I am on WhatsApp too, very regularly, and should admit that I have an impulsion to check messages as soon as they come. Some of my contacts have their own ringtones, so I know specifically when any one of them sends a message but everyone else has a common tone. I am also guilty of randomly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram, especially when I am bored. I am on the computer for a few hours daily, mainly for my course work and for this blog. Has the pandemic really changed my screen time? I don’t think so. I believe that I used to use my phone and laptop just as much pre-March as I am using them these days.
Have I done anything about reducing the time spent on devices? I don’t know if it was intentional, but over the last two weeks, I have reduced my average screen time (I have proof ;-)) and I plan to keep the downward trend going. To start with, I have been trying to control my impulse to pick up the phone every time a message tone rings and I am also trying to keep myself occupied with some crafting projects. I would also love to go back to reading…and I hope I can do that soon because there are so many good books out there waiting to be read.
Do you have a tip for reducing screen time? Feel free to share it in the comments below for all to benefit. Here’s to finding new ways to spend our time doing meaningful activities and giving our eyes some much needed repose from screens of all sizes.