Mama screen time redefined

As a busy mother, teacher and writer, I sometimes find it hard to balance my online time — social media, texting, emails — with my offline time.

I find it necessary and valuable to make virtual connections, but I also yearn for and benefit from screen-free time on my own and with others who I love and care for. 

There are times that I’ve been distracted or preoccupied by something trivial on a screen while a real live human being was seeking my attention. 

I also admit to letting the addictive pull of checking social media feeds, emails or texts get the best of me and occupy more of my time — and mental energy — than I would like to admit. 

Can you relate?

In our society, it’s not uncommon to form a dependence on electronic media. It can be addicting! 

But we can assert some control over our technology use so our habits don’t interfere with our relationships or our connection with the real world.

To be truly accountable to myself and in hopes of inspiring others, I would like to share my goals and intentions as I work to develop more healthy habits of technology use in my life:

Walking the walk

I will work to be a role model with my use of technology. 

I know my children are at an impressionable age.

I know my choices and actions will influence the habits my children develop. 

I will follow the rules that I want my children to follow in my home, in vehicles and in public places. I want to speak through my actions — modeling healthy, safe and respectful technology use in my home and community.

Setting limits

I will work to manage my time so that my technology use doesn’t unnecessarily interfere with family time. I will set boundaries and be appropriate with my use of technology. 

I don’t need to be “on call” all of the time. I will work to eliminate distractions by turning off my phone, tablet or computer when I want to be fully present with those around me. 

Phone calls, emails and texts can wait when I’m sharing meals with my family, helping one of my children with homework or connecting with my husband at the end of a full day.

I want my children to know “there is a time and a place” for these types of communications and I want the people I’m interacting with to know that I honor and value their presence.

Practicing unplugging

I will make a point to disconnect from technology for stretches of time every-single-day. 

This is a refreshing practice that helps me stay connected both with the people in my life and my surroundings. 

Sometimes I need to remind myself that it is very rational to go out in public without my phone. I survived close to 30 years without a phone in my pocket.

I know I can survive a family gathering, a shopping experience, a walk around the neighborhood or a doctor’s appointment without checking out. 

I can also go a couple of hours — or even a day — without checking a social media feed, text or email. 

It is possible! 

This type of disconnect actually helps me feel connected in a different way, one that’s a bit more real and genuine. 

Creating and maintaining healthy habits with our technology use is important to create balance in our lives. 

I’m grateful for all the gifts that come with technological innovations, but I also want to be responsible and in control with my actions so I can experience the richness of everyday, real-time interactions. 

Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her on Instagram @megtdevine. Write her at