There was a time when everyone was glued to their televisions. A time when network TV ruled the airwaves, and it was a ritual to sit down in front of the television with your family to see the latest “program.” The old school days meant that everyone had to follow a TV Guide to see when a show was on, and you had to see it at that particular time.
To say media and media watching has evolved is an understatement. Now we’re a distracted nation that still may watch TV, but we’re balancing our tablets and cell phones in our arms, along with the remote. We’re watching shows, but it may be the baseball game we DVR-ed last night. We’re shopping on our laptop while the TV is on, or we’re playing a game app on our cell phones while the TV quietly humming in the background. We’re sending group text messages about tomorrow’s playgroup while checking our bank accounts online. From a technological standpoint, we’ve evolved into a dual screen nation.
According to Techcrunch, now more Americans are spending more time in apps than watching television! “Traditional cable TV has already been suffering in recent months, as more consumers are cutting the cord or opting never to sign up in the first place for pricey TV packages filled with channels they don’t want, or have time to watch. But while many are turning to online streaming services like Netflix or Amazon to get their TV fix, Flurry’s report indicates that consumers are also spending their time away from TV doing other things – namely, using apps. According to the company’s data, the average U.S. consumer is now spending 198 minutes per day inside apps compared to 168 minutes on TV.”
With apps taking up so much of our time these days, how do we teach a distracted nation not to be distracted? How do we teach our kids to put away their cell phones when they’re in a restaurant, or put their cell phones on vibrate in a crowded movie theater? It’s hard to enforce a rule of respect for others when you don’t see that same respect enforced around you. But it definitely starts in the home.
Kids treat their cell phones like their best friends, from social media shares, to photo and video posting, to chats, to texting at all hours of the day and night…trying to keep a kid from not being distracted is nearly impossible. Some parents may wonder, is there an app to check text messages to make sure a child is safe? Others may resort to strict cell phone rules, and may remove cell phone privileges altogether. Look around the public areas today: there are limits to cell phone use in schools, libraries, doctor’s offices, and on some commuter trains, they have designated “quiet cars.”
As long as you treat others with respect, and teach your children the same, you’ll probably see those good manners returned. You won’t have to resort to phone restriction, or seeing text messages on another person’s phone, or being shhh’ed in a library. In this distracted, dual screen nation, there’s always room for civility. And if you’re a parent, you can lay that foundation for a lifetime of respect for others, no matter how fast-paced and technological the world gets.