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Integrating computers into family life…

Integrating computers into family life…

Family Portrait 2This time last year, most of my non-work time was spent alone hunched up with my laptop on the sofa, playing games or doing emails etc.

Tonight, when I get home, my wife will be on our laptop cranking out another 3000 words for her NaNoWriMo project, while I’ll be watching TV and occasionally waiting for her to finish.

In about three months time, we’ll be trying to juggle laptop time (as I have termed it) with WeaponX time. Although, naturally, WeaponX will get the lion’s share of attention.

But since then, I’ve been wondering about how other people transition from being alone with a laptop, to being a couple with a laptop, to being a family with a laptop. Cory Doctorow has an interesting article on how he juggles fatherhood with laptop time – mainly by letting his daughter watch things on the laptop.

This sounds like a straightforward idea, but then at the back of my mind, I can’t shake the feeling that time spent on a laptop is time spent away from my wife or my future family, even if we are physically all together sat on the same sofa… whereas at least if we’re watching TV together, we’re watching TV together.

How do you tackle that dual need between “together time” and “laptop time”?


  • Why not get one of those pad things?

    A laptop means you are using a keyboard, and that gives a possessive posture. Something more touch oriented means you can curl up wit it, and its all about media consumption.

    Media generation is different, you’re probably best sitting apart and concentrating for that.

    Dixon are launching the advent vegas, a ten inch Android tablet in a couple of weeks. Spec looks ok, price is low enough to be interesting.

  • I do most of my writing before work, to get as much as I can out of the way first thing in the morning, then keep the evenings clear to spent time with my wife. Most of the time this arrangement works, though I do occasionally sneak into the study in the evening to write another thousand words or so.

    I find it curious that you differentiate between using a computer on a sofa and watching TV on a sofa, and see the latter as better for interaction and quality time. I thought very few people sat and watched television without doing something else at the same time. And are you that absorbed with your laptop activities that you fail to notice what's happening in the real world? If so, that's probably worth addressing.

    • Watching TV is more of a shared activity in the sense you can both comment on the programme on TV.

      And most of the time I'm on the laptop, I'm trying to backup and organise photos, or my bank accounts, or my email. Or (in a blue moon) playing Civ 5. Not exactly shareable activities.

  • Lisa Stanford

    Well for us we were actually able to get in some laptop time when Mikayla was an infant b/c well she slept a lot. What I'm finding now is that as she older its almost impossible to be on the computer. For one, she constantly wants attention and if I notice aha she's playing by herself I'll go on the laptop she immediately stops playing by herself and bugs me. Its b/c she knows that i'm about to do something nice for myself and really that just can't happen in her mind :-). So, I'm on it @ work or when she's asleep but honestly I don't miss it. Same for Daniel he's rarely on it these days either during family time. And you're right time on the laptop is away from your family and sometimes thats a good thing but more often than not us wives aren't really appreciative of it!

  • Sigh…. should it even be a question? My late husband and I had 4 towers & 3 laptops between us. & I was the chickette who was working for an Android start-up.

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