On Your Father's Side  

Screen time Jeopardy

Who would’ve guessed I’d be binge watching Jeopardy reruns on Netflix, but here we are.

I’ve watched the quiz show since Alex Trebek’s version hit the airwaves in 1984.

Not consistently, mind you, but enough that I recognize half the contestants appearing on these reruns.

The streaming service is featuring two different Tournament of Champions events and the $1-million Battle of the Decades.

After the kids started arriving, we cut cable, so I haven’t watched much in nearly a decade.

Nostalgia and challenging my brain are the reasons I’ve already blown through half the episodes in less than a week.

For a while, before kids, I thought of myself as a pretty good player. Heck, I seriously considered trying out (I signed up for email alerts about upcoming auditions).

But something’s happened since I last watched.

The questions (or answers, if you’re a stickler) are suddenly much more difficult.

Here’s a good example of a cupcake question that I whiffed on recently. In the category “Carson, daily” about The Tonight Show, the answer was:

  • “After this Tonight Show guest host was given her own late-night show, Carson refused to speak with her ever again.”

The answer, formed as a question, is …?

Yeah, of course, “Who is Joan Rivers?”

But do you think I could get that? I practically spit out my Doritos in frustration, thinking the answer was covered in nacho cheese on the tip of my tongue.

That’s not the only example, either. There’s been more than I care to admit.

Dang it, but my brain isn’t working.

Now, in my defence, I’ll say the Jeopardy brain needs regular workouts.

Like the crossword brain, the more you watch or play, the better you get. Eventually you learn the Trebek cadence and little clues that help solve the puzzles.

What I can’t help thinking about, however, is I’m just dumber a decade later.

That shouldn’t happen, though, should it? I’ve got all this extra, useless information now.

It had me wondering, is my brain at 45 years old, like my eyes, thickening?

To Google.

I picked up my phone to ask the great god Google, and its first-born, Siri.

Ooh, an email just came in. Oh, an alert from the New York Times: Trump just said what?

Facebook wants to know how my day went, I should tell it. There are new missions available on Marvel: Puzzle Quest.

Forty-five minutes later, I had a new muffin recipe saved to bake for the kids, and my missions were all completed, but I wasn’t any closer to actually answering my question about old brains.

Then it hit me, my phone is killing my brain power.

I have the stats to prove it. With the latest update to Apple’s software, my phone now tells me how many hours of screen time I’m averaging, per day.

Last week, it was six hours.

Gawsh, I’m embarrassed to admit that. Sure, some of that was watching Monday Night Football (the heart wants what the heart wants), but there’s no excuse for that kind of use.

I’m addicted, and I know it.

The New York Times has been exploring this issue as it relates to kids. Because, let’s face it, it’s too late for us old timers.

The newspaper is talking a lot about parents eliminating screens from their homes and how some schools are pulling out tablets and smartboards.

You know it’s bad when the people who build the apps and tech are banning them at home.

Chris Anderson is a former editor of tech magazine Wired. He’s now CEO of a robotics company. He has five children, and he enforces 12 tech commandments on his family.

“We thought we could control it,” Anderson told the Times.

“And this is beyond our power to control. This is going straight to the pleasure centres of the developing brain. This is beyond our capacity as regular parents to understand.”

The Times also writes of Silicon Valley nannies signing “no-tech” contracts so kids don’t see screens at all.

“The people who are closest to tech are the most strict about it at home,” Lynn Perkins, the CEO of UrbanSitter, told the Times.

I’m amazed these parents can find anyone willing to work for them at all.

I met a family recently that just hired a nanny because mom is headed back to work.

The first question this new nanny asked? “What’s your wi-fi password?”

Our kids (and our oldest is just seven) are already battling us for more access to TV and our phones.

I'm a terrible role model. I need a flip phone, something that looks like it might cause brain cancer.

Thankfully, I won’t be in danger because nobody uses their phones to make calls anymore.

Maybe I’ll get cable again, too.

The 2020 Tournament of Champions is calling my name.

Let’s hope I still have my hearing by then.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.


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About the Author

David Trifunov is a proud father, humble author and recovering journalist.

Trifunov and his wife, Erin, are raising three little girls in Kelowna and enjoying every second of the trials, triumphs and tribulations.

As a humble author, he has written three middle-grade books for publisher Formac-Lorimer.

To pay the bills so he can raise those kids and write those books, Trifunov is a journalist with 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor.

His parenting column will appear regularly. davidtrifunov.ca

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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