Screen Time

May 11, 2011

People often see their psychiatrist for advice. Mostly people ask me, “What should I do about my depression?” “How can I lessen my anxiety?” I listen. I gather information. We talk. We sometimes try medications. We talk some more.

Inevitably, we explore ways to self soothe. Any way to get in a walk? Listen to music? Read quietly? Meditate? Inevitably, I recommend the TV leave the bedroom and that the cell phone ringer go off. And in my own house, to date, we had a no-electronics-during-the-week policy.

True confession though. TV and cell phones have enriched my family life. This year we have watched every episode of American Idol. Yes, every single one. And all together. Even my husband emails me when he is on his way home so that we can include him. To assuage our guilt, my husband and I agreed that the kids should first have their homework done, teeth brushed, and PJs on. We TIVO the show so that we can start a little later, fast forward through the commercials, and bend a little on bedtime.

Our reward? Laughing, snuggles on the couch, lots of after-show texting our votes in, debates about how many votes should go to which contestant, dinner table imitations of our favorite Idols, and lamentations about Idols unjustly voted off, are some examples. TV and texting are the medium in which we have grown our family’s common experience and gotten to know one another’s hopes and dreams. When the competition ends we hope to go take a walk, singing while we go.

Dr. Judith Kastenberg is a Staff Psychiatrist and can be reached at 215-382-6680 x4118.