How Are You Managing Your Screen Time?

Because I love technology and social media, I feel like I have been quite conscious of my screen time. Since more than a year, all notifications are off my phone. I use the app “Focus” to turn off the internet on my phone (it also helps with working with the pomodoro technique). After reading Adriana Huffington’s book on sleep, I also parked my phone – turned off! –  in a different room during the night and am awoken by an old-fashioned alarm clock. All in the name of limiting my screen time and not being dragged down the rabbit-hole of smartphones.

Sadly, I also agree with Jim Kwik who suggest that smartphones make us less smart!

However, all of this seems to not be enough to manage my time in front of a screen. Indeed, Catherine Price who wrote a book about breaking up with your phone, and a New York Times article that sums it up, suggests it took her two years!  When I heard on the news Apple is including such a control mechanism for parents and individuals in their next OS, I thought to myself I NEED THIS NOW and started researching programs for both me and my 7-year-old. This is what I found.

 

FOR ME: Space. Free app, upgrade available USD 1.99 (but actually I am not sure what the upgrade does).

I liked the design and step-by-step idea that “diagnoses” your particular problem (I am a “boredom battler”) as well as the pop-ups and idea of dimming of the screen. It is also free! That is a pretty great feature when comparable apps charge a monthly cost.

 

FOR THE KID: Habyts. Free for 14 days and after that USD 3.29 or 7.99/month depending on services needed. The more expensive upgrade include chores that your kid can do for extra points or minutes.

Further, Habyts was the only app I could find that both allowed me to set daily time allowances, remote turn off her device, as well as included the option of adding tasks or chores for her to earn more time.

 

5 days in

We have tried a for a few days and I appreciate the professional help! In addition, what has helped is the idea to limit and track not just duration of each session, but also the number of times one reaches for one’s phone and unlocks it. However, despite warnings, limits and general awareness-raising, it has not been very impactful so far for me. I have not yet met my goals of 1,5 hours max on the smartphone/day (my average is more like the double!) or less than 30 unlocks during a day. Two nights since I started this phone detox, I have also unfortunately late-night-binged on my iPad (where I did not install the program).

My child shows withdrawal symptoms as well and has been angry and demanding. I had to change the lock codes on all my devices as she “jumped” to mine when her time was up! However, the remote shut-down function makes the process of limiting the time (right now the same 90 minutes a day) easier than earlier and I recognize that it helps for thinking of other things to do that I am also off my phone!

I will follow up again when some more time has passed to tell you how we are doing.

How do you limit screen time in your family?

My Children on the Blog

So in-between blogging, researching, and teaching, I do have a private life. The main part of that life is my two children. I have mentioned them every now and then here on the blog, like when they were born: Selma in 2011  & Ellen in 2014, and in a post on our racialized lives “You are yellow and I am brown” and in a post on how to carry a baby Ghana style (one of my few videos). 

2016-08-23-07-31-39

However, I would like to write a little more here on the blog about my children, things we do together, and challenges we face as a family. I will do so under the category: Parenting.

While some might feel one should not “expose” children online, I see my online life as a part of my life and it feels strange to “hide” them away from my blog. Also as my children grow and frankly become more fun to hang out with, I think I have more to say about them, their activities, and about life with children more generally. I am mindful of that they are their own people who should get to tell their own story, but until they start their own blogs (oh, what a dizzying thought!), I think I can say quite a bit more without compromising their integrity.

If you have ideas on topics you’d like to read relating to life with children, do leave a comment!

When your child is sick with malaria

The blog posts you had in mind to write is the last thing on your mind. I mean, in tropical Africa on the one hand, it is just another day with play at home, plenty fluids, and ice cream in the afternoon – not so much different from a weekend without play dates. 

On the other hand, it is a time where I deeply connect with parents in this region who feel a hot forehead and it means more than a few days of recuperation at home. I think of families who live much further from a clinic than we do, cannot travel there in the comfort of their own air conditioned car, and do not simply hand over their health insurance to the nursing station before seeing the doctor.

My body aches for the parents who maybe have to go door to door, knocking, to look for the money needed for transport and care of their little one, increasingly weaker by the minute. In Ghana, malaria is endemic and has affected history and continues to shape contemporary life. It kills, and according to WHO Ghana reported more than 2500 malaria deaths in 2014, but it also cast its net wide as more than 1.5 million people were reported ill with malaria over the same time. That means, malaria is seen as nothing more than a bad cold. “Take your meds and rest”.

Now my malaria-ridden kid (or maybe it is not malaria, the test came back negative, but the zealous doctor still wanted to do the treatment) is sleeping here next to me and I feel mostly calm and grateful. When she wakes up, I will give her more paracetamol. I have food in my fridge and money in my bag. I have the doctor’s cell phone number if her condition is not better by tomorrow.

Can you tell I am still worried?

This post is the second in my new series of more personal posts to be posted on Fridays, Personal Fridays. Although, I have to admit today is Saturday. 

Social Theory: Taking My Daughter to Work

This semester I have taught Social Theory – Ashesi University College‘s introduction to Social Sciences and the world!

It has been a good ride, I especially have enjoyed the news presentations and ensuing panel discussions – my colleagues and I encourage critical research and creativity – and have been rewarded greatly by imaginative and interesting presentations. The course also teaches a history of political ideologies from Plato to Putnam, more or less.

Yesterday, I decided to show my daughter and her nanny what my work is like and they spent the day with me. We took the tour round the campus (here you can too) and when my first class was about to start, she took a marker and started scribbling on the white board to the amusement of the 60 member class: ” Look at, Mamma!”, “Mamma, mamma, make a carrot!”

I smiled and remembered the many, many times I went with my mother to her teaching job…scribbled on something, ran around in the classroom, watched my mother teaching…will my daughter be a teacher too?