Like every millennial, middle class family, you are also grappling with serious screen addiction at home. You are addicted. The wife is double-addicted. Children sickeningly addicted. And the househelp breaks stuff in the kitchen every day because she can’t keep off Instagram.
Sometimes we are too busy to notice that something has hit epidemic proportions. And this past weekend, you noticed just that. You walked in and everyone was on their screen. If you were a gunman, nobody would have seen or heard what hit them. The only resolution you have this year is to minimise your digital addiction. So far, so good. It is successful. And you want to be authoritarian in cutting the addiction back home.
Caroline is mostly watching some series on TV, tablet or phone. She never rests. She also chats a lot. You don’t remember the last time you had a meal together while having a conversation. Little Farrah too is so in love with her tablet because everyone is too busy. And for the little king, anytime you want him to keep quiet, you give him a phone. Now, he demands it like he owns it.
So, as the man of the house, you have banned all use of phones and tablets by children for the next two months. From then on, you will allow them to use it once every week. For Caroline, it was a serious war.
“Do you think it is OK, to use your phone while at the dinner table?”
“Shida yako ni nini? Si you always use your phone? What is wrong when I use mine?”
She was hostile and defensive. But it is because she was chatting with someone who apparently cannot wait until dinner is served. So you grab the phone from her. She grabs at it, it knocks against the side of the chair but miraculously doesn’t crack.
“Give me back my phone!” It is her command. But at some point, a house ought to have rules.
“No using of the phone once we are all in the house. Read or let’s have a discussion. So, from today, I will lead by example. No use of phone once we all get home.”
“Even calling or receiving?” Caroline asks, panicked.
“Unless it is an emergency, family…”
“Oh, come on! It is not like you will obey that rule yourself!”
But what she doesn’t know is that you have been implementing the rule quietly and in the last month at 7pm, the phone is on silent mode and you check it once every hour and turn it off when going to bed. No emergency is big enough that it cannot wait until tomorrow.
You can’t afford a disengaged family. The little king has adapted pretty well, throwing his toys around. Farrah was sulky but at your instructions, she swims more and does more of physical activities and watches minimal TV.
For Caroline, you threatened her that if she dares touch her phone, you will break it. You can sense the withdrawal syndrome, but by day three, she has adjusted. Sulky, but well, within a month, she will have adjusted accordingly.
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