Let me start this with an admission. I love the internet. I first started using it on my 28kpb modem (that 56kbs was awesome when it came out!). I was a frequenter of chat rooms where we befriended people from all over the world (I made a close friend in a tiny fishing village in Nova Scotia, while sitting in my apartment in Sydney), I created geo city websites, and I felt connected to a world outside mine.
I’m an avid streamer, downloader, social media user and consumer of all things online (well not ALL things… it’s a dark and weird world out there in some cyber places!)
I love reading online blogs, clicking on Facebook rants, and enjoy falling down the rabbit hole of other people’s thoughts (often ending with some curious extra googling on a random topic)
And I have a business which demands a life online — as part of our marketing strategy we advise and work with our clients on digital strategy, web and using bloggers and influencers in the online space.
Suffice to say the internet and I aren’t breaking up any time soon.
However — in the last year I have felt the noise of everyone’s voices clamouring. I know we teach others how to advertise on social networks, but I’m tired of all the advertisements I’m running through. And I’ve become increasing frustrated in seeing my three beautiful, high achieving children (11, 14 and 16) prefer to watch programmes independently on their own screens, lock themselves away in a zone of infotainment.
Our saving grace has been our commitment to eat as many meals as we can as a family — dinner every night, plus most meals on weekends. But I’ve seen the decline of connection outside of those times and a growing reluctance to come and explore the world around them. In fact, they’ve almost become resentful of any extra time we ask them to spend together, not to mention the struggles to get them to have a conversation with us without flicking their eyes down to that tiny little screen.
Last year we made the call to reduce some of our mortgage by moving house. We found a great place, did all our due diligence, and all the important checks such as water pressure, and heating and location. We just forgot to check internet connection. It was just assumed it would be all good to go.
Except it’s not. So much so that I’m writing this on word, so I can go into work to submit it. We’ve got enough internet for one device to stream at a time, but no upload speed at all — we couldn’t even load the speed test website to check!
Our children were not impressed. I was in a mild form of panic. My husband was non plussed. (he doesn’t share my love of all things internet)
What would my children do?
Quite a lot it seems.
Two days in, after dinner, we found one outside painting with watercolours, another reading a real book, and the third writing a blog on her laptop (on word!) about why her parent’s removal of internet was cruel and unfair.
Three days in. two of them came for both a swim AND a walk with us, and four days in, they started playing card games together, packed a picnic lunch and went to the park, and could once again conduct a conversation with each other without checking their phone.
Yup, it’s almost floppy disc fast…
There are still a few things to work out — they attend a school where all the teaching is online, and there may be hurdles to jump in making sure they can work around that, but we’ve got our kids back. And this makes having very bad internet at home worth it. After all — it’s at their school at the library and at pretty much every gas station and retail store. Just not at home.
Having conversations, doing crosswords as a family, picnics, kayaking, beach walks, real books, swims, painting. All things we had to almost bribe them into doing a short time ago are their normal activities now
I am no luddite. I’m still in love with what the internet can do, and does do. I have been shocked at what we have allowed to slip away as a family with our children’s use of devices. I do question what sort of adults are we building for our world tomorrow.
We’ve got fibre coming to our street in two years. I’m going to enjoy every crappy internet moment until it comes. Even if my kids feel I’ve ruined them.