explorations of mindful fatherhood

Chucking the iPad for 2014


noipadforyouI’m not big on resolutions, but find that the new year is always a time of reflection and hope.  As I look back on 2013, I feel like it’s a personal anomaly. Prior to this year, I hadn’t owned a smart device. I was limited to the non-texting dumb-phone that the salesperson made fun of me for buying back in 2011. But for all of 2013, I had access to an iPad, which changed my life, for the worse.

Here are the two things that are great/terrible about technology. One, it keeps me connected. Two, it allows me instant access to any information I need. On the first account, I became hyper-fascinated over the course of this year with my social media and communication possibilities, like facebook, twitter, email, and my blog. I would incessantly check for returned emails, blog responses, and new facebook posts. Aside from some very positive connections with bloggers over the past year, most of the time was wasted seeking fleeting personal validation. I think there’s a hunger in each of us for connection, recognition, and validation, which is why technology and social media are so addicting. They feed us what we need most as social beings. However, it’s a virtual or disconnected form of contact that isn’t quite as gratifying as coffee with a friend, a hug from a relative, or a kiss from my wife. So, it leaves me feeling manic and spent.

On the second account, devices give us instant access to any information we want. I think people are naturally curious, and we’re prone to asking questions. For instance, re-watching Silver Linings Playbook yesterday, I wanted to know whether Bradley Cooper’s nose scar was real, how far Baltimore is from Philly, what crabby snacks and homemades are, and what other movies the slimeball bookie friend had been in. Those questions all coursed through my mind in the span of one scene. I wanted to grab my iPad and check the answers to all of them. But if I had, I’d no longer be watching a movie with my wife, but instead trailing off into my own world of curiosity. Day to day I constantly want to know answers to my questions, and have lost the ability to ponder things on my own and to tolerate not knowing something.

I frequently think back to a picture my son had drawn of me about half a year ago, with me staring at my iPad. In some ways, this had been the picture that occupied his mind when thinking of me, and I hated it. Will my son remember me as the dad with his nose pressed up against a screen?

For 2014, I’m putting the iPad away. I don’t need to be militant. I don’t need to be extremist. But when I’m home and my family’s awake, that thing goes in a drawer or in a bag, and is out of reach. It’s too tempting to have it close, to have it accessible. Because in the end, what will be more important? How many likes my post receives? Jennifer Lawrence’s birthplace? Or that picture of me that resides in my son’s brain when he thinks about his dad?

Author: CJ Nigh

I am an East Coast writer with a Midwestern soul. Undead Dad is a blog about mindful fatherhood in the deadening age of hyper-technology and over-work. I also write science fiction for young adults.

18 thoughts on “Chucking the iPad for 2014

  1. Wow. I have recently been having the same thoughts. Kudos to you for the big step. Hope you hang in there, and I will be attempting something similar with my phone.

  2. This is about how I feel about my cell phone. I’m always checking it. Lull in the conversation, no problem, whip out the phone…

    • Unfortunately, I’ve been at many family dinners that devolve into that. It’s so odd how it’s difficult for us to monitor ourselves, or to say something when someone else does it. Happy new year MM!

      • Happy new year to you too. Dinner is an especially tempting time for the phone. I try to turn mine off between the time I come home and the time the kids go to bed. It’s less tempting that way I find, because of the amount of time it takes to turn on. (which is not that long but it seems that way sometimes)

  3. i’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one that refuses to be “joined at the hip” with an electronic device…

  4. I guess as technology evolves, we are all dealing with its impact on our lives–both good and bad. My own post just yesterday dealt with very similar issues. I can so relate. We have to set parameters that work for us, as you have described here. Have a great New Year, CJ!

  5. Wow, this is deep. And yeah, I think I could stand to disconnect a bit more as well. Thanks for writing this.

  6. CJ – once again, you write a post that many are thinking about, yet no one says anything about. Especially, men. I could engage more than I do. Thanks for making me realize to take it in doses, to measure my usage, and to check in and like the REAL things in my life. have a wonderful new year. Make it Count!

    • Always love your comments Clay! Yes, baby steps is what I say. The iPad isn’t fully “chucked”, but it does stay in my work bad for the night once I’m home. Hoping you have a great, REAL new year!

  7. I hope more and more read your blog as I enjoy each post more and more. I also remind you, I’m don’t have any human kids myself. I must have deactivated my Facebook dozens of times because of being annoyed of all the useless posts and attention that others crave. One of the main reasons I do like it is keeping in contact with my cousins and family internationally. Remember when it first launched and it was only available to college students and staff? Simpler times. Happy & Healthy New Year to you and your family.

    • Crispy, thanks so much for reblogging the post. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I haven’t gone all the way by deactivating facebook. I always seem to keep one foot in the water, but can’t manage to get out of the pool! Hope you’re enjoying your new year!

  8. Reblogged this on crispy..

  9. Our kids have a fifteen minute limit on the ipad, twice a day. They are on holidays at the moment and it’s harder to enforce. I have begun to enforce the same limit on myself – I find I can do this and it makes me happier; less manic. I spoke with an optometrist recently and he told me how terrible small screen devices are for eyes. If we don’t limit their usage, our kids won’t either and ultimately we’ll be left raising children with weak eyesight. This little fact has helped to motivate me to decrease their usage in our house.

  10. I think that you’ve captured exactly what I fear about technology. I fall in love with new gadgets too easily and I don’t want my son doing the same thing because he sees it in me. I find myself looking at my iphone too often, but I am making a concerted effort to keep it put away while I can spend time with my son.

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