Is a screen your favorite housemate?

If you only have time to ask one question ask:

 "Do you ever feel like you’re competing with a screen when you try to get a family member’s attention for a conversation?"

It’s morning. You are snuggled under the covers, your eyes open, your brain registers that it’s a new day. Is your first interaction with the world an in-person one -- “Good morning, honey” – or a screen one – a text, FB post, or news and traffic update — quick, before anyone in the house says ‘hello’? How about for your kids?

It’s invigorating to be able to interact with every corner of wider world at any moment, from the instant we wake up to the moment before our eyes close at night. But sometimes it’s disorienting, even when we are all at home: Do I feel more connected? Or more alone, even though my husband is on the same sofa two feet away from me?

It brings to mind the cliché 50s image of dad at the dining table, his face hidden behind the paper, walled off from everyone by the tall black and white newsprint absorbing his attention. But now it’s not just dad at dinner, it’s every family member, at all hours, eyes glued and faces lit by screen glow, me included.

I recognize every person needs different amounts of alone time and family time to feel connected to each other, but with screens I feel like spontaneous interactions are harder to come by, make up less of our family time moments. To “be” together, we have to strategize, organize and schedule it. Is this the new social norm?

How is family life at home different with screens in it? Here are some other ways to get the conversation started: 

  • Do you bring your device from room to room with you when you are home?
  • Do you ever feel like you’re competing with a screen when you try to get a family member’s attention for a conversation?
  • What do you remember about lounge time in the bedroom or on the sofa before you had a portable screen?
  • How do you think home time would be different if there were regular screen-free time zones for everyone, such as for 30 minutes between dinner and bedtime or before 10 am on Sunday mornings, for example?: