A few weeks ago Thomas and I were on the tram and I got out my phone when I heard a lady say, ‘Look at that, look how the baby is already looking at the screen watching exactly what mum is doing. Mum doesn’t even realise he’s learning bad behaviour at such a young age. It’s so sad.’ The lady’s friends all agreed and I pretended not to hear.
Those words hurt. Firstly, because I know they’re true and secondly, Andrew and I talk about us wanting to give Thomas an unplugged childhood and we’re clearly not.
Andrew and I made a deal that when Thomas is old enough to understand what a Smartphone is we’ll stop using them around him. But after the lady’s comments, the time is now. We really want to teach Thomas how to have a good relationship with technology. I totally get we live in a technological world and I want Thomas to be part of that world but I don’t want him to be a slave to it. I don’t want all his excitement, entertainment and his cure for boredom to come from technology. And I know the way I’m using my iPhone is teaching Thomas bad habits.
So I have started to make small changes. I’m not going to quit my iPhone altogether, far from it. The small change I have made is, I no longer check my phone when Thomas is awake. That’s the rule.
Before this rule, I would be on my phone while I nursed Thomas. Sometimes nursing him can take half an hour and in this day and age, doing nothing for half an hour can put you in a panic. Instead of being on my phone I study his face, I’ll softly spell out words to him, I’ll read a book or shock horror, I’ll think.
I have stopped checking Instagram when we go for walks. I have stopped checking my phone while I supervise Thomas on his play mat. I deleted my personal Facebook account and I feel I am slowing gaining more control over me vs my iPhone. Not being a slave to my phone around the clock feels really good. It feels as good as the time I quit TV (and yes, still no TV after almost 3 years).
I can already see we’ll be fighting the war on technology for as long as Thomas is in our care and we’ll probably lose but we’re going in for the win. Technology is a wonderful thing if used correctly and those words on the tram made me realise that I’m not starting off on the right foot if I want to teach Thomas how to have a good relationship with it.
There are many adult things children don’t need to be exposed to just yet. Really, they have their whole lives to take part in it all and being on an iPhone, I think, is one of them.