I just completed an article for a guest blog post I committed to. An impulse rumbles in my abdomen: PLAY A GAME. I feel energized by having finished an article, but yet have a powerful urge to piss away that energy playing a video game. “I deserve it,” the powerful voice that seems to live in my abdomen tells me.
After finishing the last sentence, I eyeballed the “Steam” icon on my taskbar. Steam is the game-hosting site I, and most game-addicted people around the world, use to indulge our compulsion. I can choose from hundreds of different games. I’m not going to do it, but if I stay in the house, that could quickly change, so right now, I am going to get in my car and drive somewhere. I need new sheets and have several items to return to Lowe’s. I will go to the shopping center immediately, and will report back below. When the urge to game, or mindlessly surf the Internet, hits me, I just need to get out, as if there were a gas leak or fire inside of my house.
[Two hours later]
I purchased the sheets, Peacock Alley brand. The saleswoman told me, “These sheets are like silk at one-fifth the price.” I could not argue with that logic, so I bought them. It was at a closeout store called Tuesday Morning, so they were at a deep discount. My other sheets had a huge coffee stain that I could not remove (Stains, another under-reported hazard of ADHD!).
Anyway, I went out and did something that needed to be done, then came back and did a load of laundry. If I had stayed home, I would have gone into cyber communion with my computer screen and wasted away the whole evening without handling any of the details of my life. I find that forcing myself to do one thing helps fuel me to do others, but I have the type of ADHD that causes this apathetic funk to take hold of me. When it grips me, I find it almost impossible to take action. Over the past decade, however, I have become increasingly successful at breaking the pattern. I stay away from technology long enough for balance and reason to reassert themselves.
Luckily, I do not get an addictive charge from playing games on my smart phone, so I dodged a bullet there. If you are a Candy Crusher, Clash of Clans, or Fruit Ninja junkie, leave your phone behind. Leaving our phones behind is a good way to have a mini “techfast.” I do a 3-day techfast every month and my best ideas and most productive writing come during these times.
It is really difficult to balance technology in our lives. So, learn to say no to technology and consider doing a techfast. STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER!
Kevin’s Top Five Family Technology Tips
1. Have at least some tech-free time as a family. Don’t allow smart phones at the dinner table, for example.
2. In addition to tech-free time, have tech-free zones. Many families I work with choose to use the family room for this purpose. Cell phones, video game consoles, laptops, iPads, and computers are not allowed in there.
3. Set a maximum time allowed on video games and the computer. I recommend no more than two hours a day.
4. For each minute spent on the computer or video game, require a corresponding minute of exercise. This will allow you to combat the tendency for technology to create sedentary and obese children.
5. No TV’s, computers, or video game consoles in the bedroom.