Too much screen time.
It’s a problem. Our children are growing up fixated on tablets and phone screens instead of books and imaginative play.
As a society, our attention spans are shortening.
We are addicted to the drip-feed of dopamine, which social media can give us.
It affects our sleep patterns, it numbs our minds, it is destroying communication skills.
It is creating a culture lacking in interpersonal contact.
We are a society of silos. Plugged-in. Zoned out.
Yep, there is much to be said about the detrimental effects of too much screen time and phone-usage.
My children, still young and not yet at school, don’t own a phone or tablet. They occasionally watch TV and are exposed to limited amounts of screen-based tech through nursery, and possibly when they’re clamouring to watch Baby Shark on YouTube.
I’m trying to encourage them to use their imaginations, experience boredom, love books and be curious.
I, on the other hand, spend a lot of time on my phone. As soon as the updated iOS happened, I did set up screen time limitations and downtime. However, I often find myself just adding 15 minutes more when I’m quickly checking the weather for the next day, wanting to reply to a late WhatsApp message or type up a quick note or reminder when something occurs to me at 10pm.
I often feel the guilt.
I even feel I need to caveat this with: I love my children, I adore spending time with them and I don’t feel as if I neglect them.
We have a no-phones-at-the-table rule, and during family meals, we talk. When they are home we play, we read, we go for walks, go to the playground, explore the usual haunts, but sometimes, I put the TV on and do an hour’s work.
If you were to glimpse us through the window, you might see me, as I am now, typing a blog post for 15-minutes on my laptop whilst the children watch CBeebies before breakfast.
You might see me posting to Instagram, replying to or composing emails on my phone whilst they sit and have their Weetabix. I’m with them, but I’m also not.
I’m running a business, I’m a mum and I work from home. Working hours are not 9-5, or even 9-3. I have two and a half days a week when I have childcare and I fit in a full-time job, scrabbling together hours around those precious child-free ones.
When I’m on my phone, I am not mindlessly scrolling Facebook or watching videos of cats falling over. I am working. I am trying to juggle work and my kids in the same place, sometimes at the same time.
If it seems as if I’m on my phone a lot, often I am just maximising those pockets of time to get little jobs done.
It’s a digital age. If I weren’t on my phone, I’d have to lug around my laptop. How lucky that I can quickly create a social media graphic and post to my business page whilst waiting in line for the nursery gates to open.
It allows me to be there and pick up the children, whilst having also been productive for my business.
So, while I try not to feel guilty, it’s also a useful reminder to me, to not judge other mums who I see on their phones. It’s so easy to make quick assumptions: they don’t care, they aren’t interested, they’d rather look at memes than their own children…
Whilst they might be playing Candy Crush (do people still play that?!), they might be grabbing five minutes to catch up on some news or quickly update the shopping order to feed the family. Whilst the headphones are in and they’re seemingly tuned out, perhaps they’re listening to a podcast, learning, growing and developing. Perhaps they’re listening to a meditation, or, perhaps, for just ten minutes, they’re listening to Bon Jovi and reliving a nostalgic moment from decades before.
Don’t judge me on my phone. Remember you are seeing a small part of my life, a random five minutes here and there.
You don’t see me giving the tickles before tea, stories before bed, or the snuggles before sleep. You don’t see the tenderness as I wipe away tears, apply a plaster to a cut, or give a cuddle after an argument. You haven’t seen the time spent plaiting my daughter’s hair, drinking tea with the dolls, or building train tracks around my living room. You haven’t seen the high-fives after my son learnt to read a new word or my daughter tidied away her colouring books.
So, please, don’t judge me on my phone. I do that enough.
Sometimes, we’re just doing the best we can in the time we have.
You can read more from Louise over at: www.thehomeworker.com