It has been hard, but for the last five days I’ve not posted, liked and only commented once on a Facebook post. Only work-related stuff is still published on my wall. Yes, I’m taking a social media break too. For how long, I’m not sure yet, if I like it you won’t see me here as much as before 2018.
Are you addicted to the short-term dopamine feedback loops of social media?
I’m Dennis, and I’m an addict to the short-term dopamine feedback loops of the little red dot of Facebook engagement. In addictions they say, acknowledgement is the first step to get better. For me, it’s key to get off the social engagement crack for the future of my kids.
Do you find yourself at dinner with friends watching at your phone the whole time? You might suffer from the same addiction…
Screentime for kids these days
My 11 years old daughter got an iPod last year. She already has an Insta account. Short for Instagram with the middle schoolers. We started to see big behavioral changes with her since she got the iPod. Screen time has changed the way she responds to us.
With our two boys, it’s even worse. iPads, television and Kindle fire are a constant discussion point. I would hate it if my kids end up like the two women in the picture, going out for lunch constantly staring at their phones, while they sit opposite each other. I took this picture last week in San Francisco when we were having lunch for my daughters birthday as a reminder for her not to behave this way.
A couple of weeks ago I even posted about the early morning TV behavior of my 4-year-old. It looks funny, and comments all were laughing a bid until you live this.every.fricking.day.for.over.a.year now. Mr V is only 4, can’t read or write yet, but through voice search commands can control the TV & cable. Great technology innovation, but not when you try to control his behavior. Safe to say that I locked up the way you can order on demand video’s after this, while that doesn’t stop him from controlling the TV, and sneaking downstairs to watch early in the morning.
Frying brains through screentime one kid at-a-time
The brains of our kids get fried by screentime these days. So many times we see couples with kids in restaurants, where the parents finally get a quiet dinner just because the kids have an iPad to play with. There is a reason why both Steve Jobs & Bill Gates didn’t let their kids play on an iPad, or at least limited screentime. (source: 1 & 2)
For me, the realization of a need to change came when all this escalated with the winter break holidays. Kids are out of school for 2 weeks, a house full of guests/family, and a need to keep a baby happy with naps during the day. This means, not a lot of day trips for the kids, lots of time at home to spend the day. The number of discussions we have had about screen time was off the charts.
Meanwhile, I happen to stumble on the comments from Chamath Palihapitiya about his regrets of contributing to the development of these short-term dopamine feedback loops while he was at Facebook. I have tremendous respect for this guy saying this in public and watched numerous video’s in which he explained his comments, and the context you should understand this remark in. Watch the whole video below to see what context his comments should be understood in. I start the embedded video at an important moment in the interview:
In his house, there is no screen time what so ever! You see, it’s not just the pull of social engagement on Facebook or Instagram which makes kids want to watch tv or use an iPad. It’s an easy way out for parents to get the kids occupied for hours without any need to put a lot of energy in them.
Great, let me try this no-screen-time thing… One day over the holiday break, I take my two boys to the sports park after having the same discussion about laptops, Kindles, iPads and TV again. We ended up running around the field, playing throw-and-catch or soccer, and having a lot of fun with the three of us. When we got in the car to grab lunch, I asked them if they enjoyed themselves;
“This was so much fun”
they both said. I asked:
“More than screen time?”
“Yes, WAY MORE FUN!”
BOOM, mission accomplished.
For the next 3 days, we went for at least an hour per day to the sports park, if not 2 hours. I wished this could be my life forever, throwing footballs with my boys outside.
However, reality kicked in, and it was back to work. Because of no time during the day to play throw-and-catch, they are back to endless whining about screen time and ongoing fights over the remote control for the TV. I’m almost there to cancel our cable and sell off the TV. And our kids already get limited screentime!
This calls for drastic action!
Social Media Holiday
For me to be a good example for my kids, I need to live the way I want them to behave. No phones at the table, no endless screen scrolling at the couch. So, I have challenged myself to a social media holiday. For my work, I will need to have some access to Facebook, so I will keep posting work-related content of Fanatics. For the rest, you can reach me through other channels.
If I’m not responding to any of your posts, It’s not you, it’s me…