Overcoming My Screen Addiction

mac-monitorI saw a joke online:

A person says to his friend “If, G-d forbid, you ever see me attached to a machine like a vegetable, please unplug the machine and remove my life support” *
The friend quickly, unplugged his laptop and threw out his soda.

My Screen Addictions

It was the time of Operation Protective Edge. Hundreds of missiles were falling upon Israel. I had the app that would warn Israeli Citizens where and when a missile was to fall – a siren was hear several times an hour.

I needed to know what was happening. I looked up news on anything I could – on smart phone, ipad, laptop – at any time – even walking down the street.

When I was younger I also was somewhat addicted to TV. When a lad it was the content of the programs that kept me tuned in. When I became a teen – It wasn’t the content that kept me hooked. It was that it helped me escape life’s pains.

I realized that I was spending too much time attached to a screen.

I had to do something about it.

Apparently the screen is tempting when you want to escape. Some people you ask – why do you watch so much TV will answer – it is important to know what is happening in the world. Yes, but how much. 5 Minutes is really enough to learn about the big headlines.

So first step is – Be Honest

Ask Yourself –

Why do you really need the screen? For News? Entertainment?

Can I be doing something more productive or helpful for society?

Can I get my satisfaction through other means?

Am I neglecting another part of my life because of my attachment to the screen?

Are my kids learning from me and that’s why they are also addicted to their iPhones and iPads?

Are there opportunity costs to my screen addiction?

Does TV solve my problems or are they the same after I watch?

Does watching the screen make me a better person after I watch?

Does watching TV promote good values or bad values?

A person steeped in the screen can not always tell if “big brother” is so bad. After stopping for a while and examining the content after a break, one can tell better of the negative values promoted by TV.

The time I am watching TV with my family, can I use it instead to develop deeper personal relationships with my spouse or children by interacting with them without the medium of the TV? Can I help them with their homework? Can I learn something from Torah in that time – in which there is unimaginable reward for word learned?

When I watch TV do I live my own life or someone else’s?

Do I discover myself or someone else?

Do I reach closer to my potential and purpose in life or not?

List things that need to be taken care of that you’d be able to do if you had 7 more hours to your day (the time that you would normally be watching TV).

Does watching the screen fit into life goal – or is it taking you away from it.

Example : If one’s life goal is to raise a family that is happy with proper morals. Does TV or the screen move you closer or farther from that goal.

Obviously, these questions can be asked about any addiction or any activity.

Someone said “The greatest victories in life are the personal victories of overcoming one’s own challenges”

Second is to limit Time spent

If you watch 6 hours, try reducing it to 6, then 5 and so on. Take small steps until you reach a healthy goal.

Third is to Reward yourself

Recognize the good that comes out of refraining. Satisfaction comes from overcoming life’s challenges. This is one of them.

Give yourself a chocolate or other perk when you overcome your temptation.

Now I am more selective in what I ingest. I avoid trashy novels. I avoid wasting too much time on news. I try to use my time more productively by spending it with family, telling them stories, helping them with homework, going out with them, playing with them. We have no TV in the house, but distractions still exist – like the other screens – ipad, smart phone, computer.

I tell people sometimes – you want a quick fix to reduce stress – stop watching TV. Avoiding all the scary and stressful things on TV – used to sell commercials – a person lives a less stressful life.

Occasionally towns in the US take upon themselves to stop watching TV for a week or so. They always report afterwards, that they improved their relationships, they enjoyed things in nature and their families more. They were more content and less stressed. They experienced life actively rather than watching it pass on the screen passively. They basically enjoyed life more.

They always seem to be happier after they relinquished the screen.

* Removing life-support is forbidden according to Halacha / Jewish law. A competent Orthodox Rabbi must consulted before making such decisions.

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