Guess what I did the other day? Missed a train because I was Tweeting. I was already on the platform but was so engrossed in Twitter, I didn’t register the train arrive. By the time I realised it was mine, the doors were closing. Had to wait half an hour for the next one. Ho ho ho. Felt about 16, not 36.
I’ve decided that modern phones are basically legal and widely available crack. I’m totally addicted to mine. I love it and loathe it in equal measure. Sometimes the need to check it is so intense it feels like it’s burning a hole in my pocket. It’s a constant itch I need to scratch, but the phone fun is always fleeting, and often it leaves a bad taste in my mouth – like when I have a cheeky McDonalds.
Many studies show that checking mobile devices actually disconnect us, even though we’re trying to be connected by using them. Ironic, huh? Our need to constantly check Emails, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc means we can easily miss the brilliant real-time interactions that make up the fabric of life.
I do love my phone, but disconnecting like this isn’t good. It isn’t great for me (apparently our constant connection to our phones is dulling our senses), but it particularly isn’t great when you have kids. In fact, it’s BAD.
Several times recently I’ve missed something Rafferty (my 2.5-year-old) is saying because I was gazing at my phone. Also, I keep faux playing – pretending to play cars with him but actually checking Facebook, while saying “broom broom.” Or, checking my emails while breastfeeding means I’m not even registering how much Max has fed, or if he’s stopped and zonked out altogether.
So, the answer is to – tada – switch OFF.
I was inspired to hear that singer Lily Allen doesn’t have broadband at home (or 3G as she lives in the countryside). Also, last month Unsound Festival in Poland took the daring move of banning mobile phones and other devices, the idea was that they wanted festival-goers to share in the actual experience, than sharing it online. It makes perfect sense!
I don’t think I could switch off all the time like Lily (as I said, I do love my phone, iPad etc), but I’ve begun to realise it is essential when I’m with the kids. Switching off my phone means that I can switch ON with them. With no distractions, any time can be quality time, and it’s amazing how much more you engage without a phone burning a hole in your pocket.
It takes a lot of self-control to turn off the phone and compartmentalise time, but it means you can get done some real play, real talking, real interacting.
That way, when you want to go and do something else you don’t need to feel so guilty, because the time with your kids has been truly invested. The worst thing would be never to be ‘there,’ even when you’re there, don’t you think?
MY HANDY GUIDE TO ‘SWITCHING OFF TO SWITCH ON’
1. Pick up your phone
2. Text anyone important that you’re going off the radar for the next hour.
3. Turn off your phone (it feels so weird to do this).
4. Put it in a drawer out of sight (this is important, as otherwise you’ll be tempted to switch it on again)
5. Then go do something else less boring instead.
6. Don’t return to the drawer until an hour is up.
7. Not even to peek at the time
8. Or your emails.
9. And No, you can’t leave it on in case it rings. Switch it OFF!