Sure it’s when you get to spend that beautiful quality time with your other half and/or your children and burn the ears off each other chatting about your day’s ups and downs, have some fun, do some exercise or outdoor activity before having your dinner and finally putting the nippers to bed.
This description could easily be taken from a book from 1940 showing how a family spends their time - or at least ‘should’ spend their time. In today’s world, it’s the equivalent of the staged Instagram perfect family photos/situation - you know the ones I mean right?
So what’s changed? Well, lots clearly, but in particular I’m talking about smartphones
Smartphones - Friend or Foe?
Personally, I love how technology advancements - software, hardware and apps - have positively impacted our lives.
In particular, medical advancements have quite literally saved my life. In 2016, I had four stents inserted into my heart whereas when my dad required work on his heart in 1996, the only option was a bypass where his chest had to be cracked open to access his heart.
A major difference in cardiac care thanks to technology.
I’m also a big fan of how smartphones/technology has allowed us the freedom to work remotely, access our emails, book tickets for the movies, literally buy anything we want, watch our favourite shows and do our banking while we are on the move just to name a few.
At times - and I’m just being completely honest here - as a full-time SAHD, I like how they give me a short break every now and again while I let my girls watch a show on it. *Queue the lynch mob!
But all that glitters is not gold. Does that mean I’m blind to the dark side of our handheld best friends? Absolutely not. Only a fool of a took would be. But that does not mean they are the devil. They just need to be used - like everything in life - in moderation.
What about our children?
So here’s the million dollar question. And it’s a two-fold question actually.
How much screen time
do you allow your children access to each day?
How much screen time do you allow yourself access to each day - in front of your children specifically?
Like that show ‘Secret Eaters’, are you a ‘Secret Phone User’? My guess is you are.
Why? Because the vast majority of us are. Unfortunately.
Next time you’re out, just take a few minutes to see how many people are on their phones - it’s just bananas.
Of course, thanks to the introduction of screen time reporting apps on IOS and Android, you more than likely know the answer to the above questions. Or at least you think you do! If you don’t know, I’d highly suggest you use these apps to see just how different your actual screen time is VS your perceived time. Get ready to be shocked.
Chat with my 6-year-old
As a blogger and an online business owner, the fact of the matter is I need my phone. That said, I know I need to be way more mindful of when I’ve my head buried in my phone when I’m with my girls. It simply needs to be reduced.
I asked my eldest daughter (6yrs old) - Nip1 as I call her - how she felt when she sees me (or Mammy) on our phones when we’re with her and her sister.
Her response gave me a jolt.
‘It makes me annoyed a bit, Dada. And sad sometimes. Sad 'cause you aren’t there when you have your phone in your hand.’
CRASH / BANG / WALLOP / SLAP
Not only did I feel like shit after hearing it, but I also felt like a hypocrite. A hypocrite because as parents, we (my wife and I) preach every day ‘that’s enough screen time’ and ‘time to get outside/play/paint/read’ etc. and yet, the first/second reply my eldest daughter gave me was a huge shock to me. In fact, it made me sad.
What kind of message are we sending our children? Children do what we do way faster that do what we say. And when they don’t do what we say, our patience can get strained somewhat (for want of a better description). Sound familiar folks?
Lead by example
I’m talking to myself here first and foremost. We are the parents. It is our job to practise what we preach. We need to be in charge of our own screentime first and foremost as our behaviour and actions are what gets noticed by our children first.
Only then should we set clear rules around our children's screentime. Agree? Yes / No?
What are your thoughts? If you’re being brutally honest with yourself, are you guilty of this?
What are your rules around screen time for both you and your children?
I’d genuinely love to hear so we can help each other out. If you can relate to any of this, please let me know in the comments below and/or on social media @thestentedpapa.
Chat next month, folks.
Written by Ross Good, SAHD of two girls and founder of The Stented Papaand Booky Wooky.