Thanks to the East Coast blizzard, we’re now in day two of a six day weekend (otherwise known as an eternity) with our two high school sons. This means lots of spirited debates about how long the boys can stay on the computers. In our house, we’ve arrived at a rule that that they can’t go on the computer before 12 noon, and must get off by 10 p.m. My wife and I are pleased with this system (the boys are rather less enthusiastic, and frequently tell us so), but it still means policing the noon and 10 pm boundaries and lots of discussion about how long they can stay on during those hours in between.
At a recent dinner I attended, an executive of a prominent organization told a story about how a young employee had been fired for using Facebook on his work computer, because the organization has a strict rule against employees going on non-work sites. The principal concern was that surfing the web would interfere with work. When the employee’s boss heard that he’d been fired, he said, “Oh no, he was my most productive employee.” At the dinner table, this led to a predictable discussion of the changes in the way the younger generation processes information and does their work.
At home, the story made me wonder whether our after-noon-and-before-10 pm system is hopelessly anachronistic. Maybe it is, but that love for computers looks an awful lot like an addiction to us old timers, and going cold turkey for at least part of the day still seems like the best treatment.