The study was published earlier this year, but only caught my (wandering) eye this week, as I’ve become increasingly aware I spend too much time staring at my phone and not enough time looking at my children.
My catchphrase is ‘in a minute’ and even when I do stop and engage, I’m rarely more than five feet from my mobile. Ready to pounce on a text, or check my mail (again) just in case a life-changing message pops up. It never does, although that Nigerian prince did sound promising…
Caregivers whose eyes wander while their children play could be a “red flag for future problems” with key cognitive development milestones.
At this very moment I
I thought achieving this much somehow made me a better
Using head-mounted eye tracking the study recorded gaze data as parents played with their one year old child. According to psychologist Professor Chen
My two kids are well past this crucial developmental age, but they are still young enough to be heavily influenced by my
The ultimate distraction
Mobiles aren’t to blame per
The difference with parenting today is we are expected to be our
I used to carry my laptop around the house the way Paris Hilton clutches her
chihuahua. And no, that’s not a euphemism.
My mobile phone usage falls into the latter camp. I obsessively check my phone at traffic lights, in between courses at Sunday lunch and even on the toilet (and I’m not talking number twos). I know I’m not alone. Research by Nottingham Trent University revealed the average person checks their
So I set myself a challenge. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE AND SLOWLY STEP AWAY.
I haven’t ditched the phone completely, that would be foolish. But I am trying to separate my work life from home life. I am attempting a digital detox, which essentially involves two things:
- Not looking at my phone when I’m with my children. Unless it actually rings I have to leave it alone.
- Leaving my laptop in my office at home. I used to carry my laptop around the house the way Paris Hilton clutches her
chihuahua. And no, that’s not a euphemism. I even took it to bed with me, although that was primarily for watching TV and not working. You can’t beat Cold Feet in bed. I mean the ITV series, not literally having cold feet. I hate that, don't you?
Would you take a call or start texting in the middle of a meeting? Treat your children with the same respect.
When my kids get up in the morning or when they come out of school I put my phone away. If we’re out together, I try to leave it at home. That way I’m not tempted to have a sneaky look. I’ll admit it’s hard at times. Checking my phone is like a nervous tick. It’s also a great way of getting s*** done.
But one look leads to an email that ‘must be sent’ and then they’ve lost me. So I’m trying really, really hard to stick with the
Here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
- Don’t set yourself up to fail. Set realistic targets
onwhen and how you can use your phone. This will ensure more quality time with your children, but allow you time to get jobs done.
- Put your phone on airplane mode. This a great way of avoiding the temptation to Google around.
- Set times when you can check and respond to emails. People won’t respect you any less for replying later that day, or the next morning.
- Carry a pen and notebook. You can still make lists and get stuff done (I love a list) but it means your children don't have to see you glued to a screen. Again.
Even if this detox thing is too late to improve my kids’ cognitive development at least I’ll be watching them fail.
- If you do need to work when your children are around, go to your office (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or sit in a quiet corner. Tell them you need to do some work and set a time limit on how long you’ll be.
- Similarly, if you need to use your phone (and you will) explain what you’re doing. Would you take a call or start texting in the middle of a meeting? Treat your children with the same respect and ask for five minutes to get the job done and then put your phone away again.
- Investing in one-on-one time with your child leads to better
behaviour. Children need an emotional connection and if they don’t get it theywill try to get your attention in other negative ways. According to Triple P Parenting, just 10-15 minutes a day of undivided attention can lead to a measurable improvement.
Two weeks in, am I a better person? No. Am I a better parent? Possibly…. Am I more present? Absolutely. So even if this detox is too late to improve my kids’ cognitive development at least I’ll be watching them fail.
Charlotte Ricca Smith is a journalist and blogger who writes about real health, real women and real life.