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I’d say the question Sam and I ask each other the most is ‘can you pass me my phone?’ Most of the time we ask for our phones it’s not because we actually need them. It’s because we’re from the generation that can’t be without them. We want them on us for just in case. We know that others expect us to be available at all times. We want them so that when we get the urge to use them, we can satisfy it immediately.
Conversations about screen time and the impacts, both positive and negative, it can have on children is nothing new. What is less talked about is the impact that a parents’ screen time can have on their parenting.
I feel that my screen time has a negative influence on the way I parent. My habits are something I’d like to change.
I’ve noticed that when I’m spending time with Henry, I’m often using my phone at the same time. I’m rarely doing anything important on it though. Sometimes I look at real estate that we’ll never buy. Sometimes I pin recipes to my Pinterest that I know I’ll never cook. Sometimes I read articles about parenting…which is ironic, because reading the articles while Henry is awake is what’s distracting me from parenting the way I aspire to. Then of course there’s the routine Facebook check which is a waste of time for so many reasons.
Many of us overuse our phones simply because they’re accessible. If we don’t have something to do on them, we think of something to do on them, whether it’s playing a game, online shopping, going on social media or reading emails.
The point is that when I’m on my phone, I’m sacrificing quality time with my baby for activities that don’t add value to my life. Henry is worth all the time I have available, yet I choose to fill that time with time-wasters…why?!
I’m not saying that I want to get rid of my phone completely. There are things I need and want to do, and my phone is an integral part of that, like doing my groceries online which saves me time and money. Then there’s the invaluable phone calls to family and friends that can’t always be timed with Henry’s naps.
What I am saying is that I feel the need to not just reduce my phone usage, but to put my phone away when I don’t need it. I don’t need my phone in my pocket when I’m walking around the house. I don’t need it right next to me while I watch television. I don’t need to take it on every family outing.
Henry already makes a beeline for our phones when they’re unattended, regardless of how many other things are around him. That’s our fault - he must think phones are the best thing since breastmilk given how much our eyes are glued to them.
I don’t want Henry to see our phones at the dinner table, or to see us constantly playing on our phones instead of talking to each other. I don’t want him to have to say ‘mum, mum, MUM!’ a thousand times to get my attention, not because I’m doing something important but because I’m just on You Tube watching a viral video of a panda bear sneeze or the latest epic pimple pop.
I want Henry to know that I’m completely available to him during our play time and that I place importance on uninterrupted time with him. I want him to hear ‘what shall we play?’; not ‘can you pass me my phone?’
My son is worthy of my time and full attention. In order for him to learn and believe that, then my screen time has to wait.
I'm married to Sam and I'm a mother to Henry.