We are all guilty of it occasionally. The kids are playing in the park and you are sitting on the bench. While you know you SHOULD be keeping an eye on them, ready to give them an encouraging thumbs up every time they reach the top of the cargo net, instinct kicks in. It’s almost a reflex motion to pick up your phone and begin scrolling through all manner of inconsequential nonsense. And this is why a number of bloggers are banding together to encourage dads (and mums, obviously) to “put your phones away”.
Mobile phones aren’t inherently evil. Well, you might want to be wary of the ones that are supposedly infiltrating Western democracies and trying to bring them down from the inside. But in general, smartphones are extremely useful items. Need to know how to remove slime from hair? A quick Google brings you a swift and efficient solution (source: bitter experience). Want to check and re-check the release date of Frozen 2 to assure your children that it definitely IS happening? Simple. However, if you want to waste time falling down a wormhole filled with blurry images of mediocre-looking food? They’re also good for that.
That’s time that could be better spent interacting with your children. We all do it, but for some parents it becomes an obsession, an addiction and something they need to consciously cut out.
Put Your Phones Away Origins
The Put Your Phones Away campaign (or more correctly #PutYourPhonesAway because it’s 2019 after all) came from a couple of bloggers posting on a similar theme. First of all Nigel Higgins wrote about being “mortified” when his daughter asked his wife whether there would be an internet connection at a place in which they were going to stay, adding “I hope there isn’t because so that daddy won’t be on his phone.”
As a result, Nigel has slowed up on both blog posts and social media activity. The impact of that single statement from one of his seven-year-old twins has led him to delve deeper into the impact of modern technology. In his post, he writes that “family life is slowly being eroded, if not totally destroyed by social media,” which is a pretty bold statement. However, when you think about it, is there ANYTHING on social media that you desperately need to know immediately? Especially when you are spending time with your children.
Part of the problem is that, for bloggers, you do sometimes feel that you need to be constantly connected. You want to see which posts are performing well, you want to interact with those who comment on your social updates because that’s a great way of riding the various algorithms to drive more traffic. But is it worth it at the expense of spending quality time focused on your children? Of course it isn’t. And that is one of the conclusions that Nigel came to.
Another dad blogger who has recently taken on the thorny topic of phone addiction is Ian Northeast of Dad’s Delicious Dinners. He too found that running a blog meant he spent more time on his phone and less time connecting with his kids. In his post about what going camping taught him, Ian wrote “Before I started my writing my blog, I was one of those parents, who as soon as the kids are home from school, I plonked my phone in the kitchen and didn’t look at it again until the kids were tucked up in bed.” However, blogging changed all of that.
Ian’s phone epiphany came during a weekend in the woods with two other families. He only realised once he returned home that the lack of mobile phone reception had allowed him to spend more time on meaningful interaction with his kids and with the other adults in attendance too.
Although he remains active on social media, he has now pledged to only reply to comments and messages when he’s not around the children.
Do You Need to Put Away Your Phones?
We hear a lot about screen time for kids, but do you find yourself on your phone when the children are around? Have you ignored them or simply not heard them because you were on Facebook? Or do you think that it is possible to balance the two worlds? Leave a Comment below.