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Why I’m Spending Less Time Behind a Screen This Summer

The summer holidays are fast-approaching here in Australia. I’m thrilled to be spending these holidays opposite the beach. And I plan on spending lots of time there. Making special memories with my kids.


As I started to pack the beach bag the other day, I frantically searched for my phone.  When I couldn’t find it anywhere, I literally panicked.


How could I go to the beach and NOT take my phone?  What if they boys did something really cute (and heaven-forbid, I didn’t capture it)?


And it got me thinking, am I spending too much time behind the screen?  Are those memories at the beach just as “legitimate”, or just as special if they haven’t been snapped? What if they were just a moment in time?


Living From Behind a Screen


In recent weeks we’ve had preschool concert, a local Christmas Carol service and lots of time at the beach.  And as a keen “social observer” (aka sticky beak) I’ve had plenty to “observe”.


And it appears that I’m not the only Mum who’s spending lots of time behind her smartphone screen, snapping away.

I’ve noticed a tendency for some of us to watch these special moments from behind a screen. And not just a small portion here or there. I’m talking about the entire concert, or service, or time at the beach with a smartphone or tablet clutched in their hand recording the event.


I ponder, are we “living” or just “observing”?

Screen Free time

Don’t get me wrong, I love to look back and look at photos and videos that I’ve accumulated on my phone  (over 7000 photos at last back up). My husband and I often flick through and reminisce.  We were in fits of laughter the other night watching videos of our first-born son saying and doing the cutest things (cheap form of entrainment for us).


I also love printing photos out (and 2015 will the year I stick to Project Life). There’s something precious about flicking through a book or an album of photos.


So I don’t have any plans on giving up my iPhone any time soon.  But I do want to pause this summer and think carefully about how I’m using my devices.


Watching the World From Behind a Screen

I know I’ve been guilty of saying to my kids, “Hang on. Do that again I want to grab a photo.”  Only to be met with looks of frustration or confusion from my children.


I wonder sometimes if we’re so busy recording our special moments that we forget to actually “experience” them.  I mean really experience them.Are we so pre-occupied with capturing moments that we forget to actually live them? And really experience them?


Are We Missing the Moment?

What happens if we truly indulged and soaked in the moment?  Does it make it more meaningful, or is it a more complete memory?


I certainly think, from a neuroscience perspective that it certainly would be a more detailed memory, if we employ  all of your senses to experience the moment. By having a visceral experience, we’d be more likely to add more detail to the memory.


Experience Before You Snap

So this summer, in the name of public accountability, I’m declaring that I will commit to fully indulging in the moment before I snap it (if I decide to snap it at all).  I want to watch my little boys splash in the water and rub sand everywhere before I grab my phone to capture it (or plead with them to do it again so I can “capture” it).


I want to experience the moment in full.  Then I’ll know once the moment is recorded that I’ve authentically experienced it (without truncating the experience to snap it) AND have a digital record of it. That’s when the moment is truly magical.


So this summer I’m challenging myself, and you if you’d like to join in, to make memories first and photos (or videos) second.  I want to make real memories.  The ones made of sand, salt and laughter memories.   I want to make a concerted effort to really being in the moment before I capture the moment.


I want to revel in the moment. No screen. No filter. Just my eyes and my heart.


This way I won’t need to fret when I’ve forgotten my iPhone or forget to take a snap.  Because I’ll have coded a detailed and powerful memory on my own hard drive instead- in my heart!


Who wants to join me? In the comments below let me know if you want to join in. 


I’m Dr. Kristy Goodwin

Researcher, speaker, author, and mum - and not only do I GET it, I’ve dedicated my entire career to helping my fellow professionals and parents explore this exact digital dilemma.

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