Ask DN: Do your significant others think you spend too much time online?

almost 9 years ago from , Design/Development @ Twilio.

I recently got married and there's been a little tension about how much time I spend either on my computer or on my phone. Of course I'd like to lead a balanced life and wouldn't want my habits of using tools like a computer to detract from my relationships with those around me, but it's hard to know what's appropriate.

I mean, I do about 90% of my reading online. I wonder if people used to be as concerned about spending too much time reading books as they've been with daily screen time.

Anybody have any thoughts or resources about this subject?


  • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, almost 9 years ago

    I think things have changed so fast that we are still not used to this new way of life. There are so many activities online: Reading (as you mentioned), movies, games, communication, social, etc.

    So the time we spend in front of a computer has also increased, and when someone sees you on one device throughout the day, they get concerned.

    That being said, I bet there is quite a few things you could cut out. One of the best things I've done is cut out most social media. No facebook, instagram, just pick 1 social app.

    Also separate "screen time" from people time. If you are out with friends, with your significant other, or talking with anyone. Don't touch your phone, don't even check texts, or calls unless there is an appropriate lull in the conversations or activities.

    Also, it feels great to move somethings off the screen. I love design, and I even do it in my spare time but something as simple as taking up drawing or lettering to take your eyes off the screen, helps you relax more than you realize you need.

    8 points
    • Jamie Wilson, almost 9 years ago (edited almost 9 years ago )

      Thanks for the advice! Yea, I got off Facebook a few years ago. I haven't even once been tempted to get back on. Twitter, on the other hand :) but I do think having a more defined rule of when it's okay to look at your phone is a wise thing to do.

      1 point
      • Jonathan ShariatJonathan Shariat, almost 9 years ago

        And even with twitter defining times to be on it and not is good. I need to get better at that myself.

        Also congrats on getting a job a buffer! That tool helped me spend a lot less time on twitter as well.

        0 points
        • Jamie Wilson, almost 9 years ago

          Thanks man! Yea. I actually avoided using twitter until I found buffer a couple of years ago. Twitter is very pervasive for me, so Buffer has been a great way to still be engaged and share things with people without getting out of control.

          0 points
  • Phil RauPhil Rau, almost 9 years ago

    My significant other is Netflix, so...

    6 points
  • Shea LewisShea Lewis, almost 9 years ago

    Im actually teaching my Girlfriend UI design right now, so I can avoid this problem farther down the road.

    4 points
  • Account deleted almost 9 years ago

    Have you tried audiobooks?

    3 points
    • Jamie Wilson, almost 9 years ago

      No, I haven't. Except a couple of times on road trips, but I've got some close friends who love them. That's a great idea to get out from behind the screen! Thanks.

      0 points
  • Mike WhiteMike White, almost 9 years ago

    Similar situation. Here is what I did:

    1. When I'm home, the phone goes away.

    2. Made an extra effort to just hangout and listen.

    3. Set specific times for specific purposes online and communicate those in advance.

    After I implemented those 3 steps my wife appreciated the effort and makes an effort to be more accommodating of my reading.

    1 point
    • Jamie Wilson, almost 9 years ago

      That sounds like a good set of guidelines. One of the reasons I asked this question is because I'm about to start working from home and want to make sure I am prepared with ways to make sure work doesn't dominated my home life.

      I definitely need to set firm working hours, but I have side-projects that I really enjoy as well, so it's really hard for me to know where to draw the line. I think your 3rd point is really important for setting expectations not only for my wife but also myself.

      It's so tempting to allow myself the freedom to jump into working on something when the inspiration strikes, but that's not really fair or feasible when living life with someone else.

      0 points
  • Cole TownsendCole Townsend, almost 9 years ago

    Yes. But I've since recognized that and balanced my work and life.

    1 point
    • Jamie Wilson, almost 9 years ago

      Was it difficult for you to do that? Did you make specific rules for yourself about work hours or giving up specific habits, etc?

      1 point
      • Ryan MackRyan Mack, almost 9 years ago

        I don't think setting rules is a sustainable solution. You have to want to do things not in front of a screen.

        Now that you're aware of this problem, it'll be much easier for you to focus on it and simply not do it. If you're about to habitually pull your phone out of your pocket to see if you've got any emails, don't. Do something else. Do your other hobbies or things you've been wanting to do that don't involve being in front of a screen. If anything, just sit and ponder. We don't much of that anymore.

        1 point
      • Cole TownsendCole Townsend, almost 9 years ago

        It wasn't a function of setting rules. It was really that I recognized I was spending time on work when I should have been spending time with them — or I was being distracted by work when I was with them to put it another way.

        It was more a scheduling and time-blocking problem to be honest. Since I freelance I can work late nights weekends, etc. That doesn't mean I can't have a real schedule as well.

        1 point