I Fear My Mobile Phone Hinders My Parenting Skills

25/05/2017 15:11

Before I had my little boy, who I might add is nearly three, I was a bit of a workaholic. It wasn't necessarily because I loved my job, it was because I hated to fail at anything. During this time my mobile phone would be glued to me. I worked in an industry where staying on top of the news, trends and having a presence on social media was key to doing well. Because of this I was on every social media platform going and always had apps beeping at me on my phone as soon as a news story hit the headlines.

Forward onto my maternity leave where I decided to embark on becoming a mummy blogger, my mobile phone turned into my lifeline. If I wasn't googling baby symptoms and worries, I would be blogging about my latest chaotic adventures as a new mum. Breastfeeding at night can also be very lonely. I'd use this time to message friends and update Facebook and Twitter statuses while I had a baby on my boob - or bottle in the later stages when the boob thing just didn't work out for me.

As my little boy grew up it became more and more apparent that my every move was influencing how he behaved, how he learnt right from wrong, and it got me thinking how I wanted to be perceived in front of him. This might sound ridiculous as I'm his mummy. But I want him to remember me for being a good person, a fun mummy, and a mummy he enjoys spending time with. Going to more and more toddler groups I noticed many mums would sit there on their phones while the children ran around. After taking on a new freelancing role for work I soon fell into this category. This time became prime time for working via my phone while my son was occupied. I knew it didn't look ok and that I wasn't giving the impression that I was a good mummy but I felt the pressure to do well with my work. I also found it - and still find it - very hard to just play. I probably sound awful but it's true. While playing I'll enjoy myself for the first ten minutes then feel like I'm not achieving something and crossing something off my to do list. I'll then make excuses to go and complete one of these tasks, whether that's through my phone, laptop, or around the house.

This went on and on until I stumbled upon a new research project that was exploring mums habits on gadgets. I just knew I had to get involved and take the job. The research threw up some very shocking facts and then it hit me that I was one of the offenders; a third of mums admitted to being on their mobile phones for nine hours a day. A quarter of these mums said they were on their devices for over 12 hours. Children are awake an average of 13 hours a day, which means some mums are on their mobile phones for most of their child's waking hour. Since working on the project I have to say everywhere I go I see parents 'looking after the kids' while on their mobile phones. I fear my generation of parents are in fact breeding the always-on habits and inspiring children to want their own mobile phones and tablets. We're certainly guilty of putting them in front of screens while on our own screens.

I am now trying to be more conscious about how much time I spend on my phone in front of my little boy. I'm making an effort to curb my temptations to jump on social media or work emails constantly throughout the day. I've even told my friends that I'm going to come off Facebook for a bit as I don't have much time. I must admit that since making more of an effort to actually look my son in the eye when I have a conversation with him rather than talk at him through my phone I do feel like I have gained a bit more time back in my day. I hope my son is benefiting too. By no means am I perfect; I mean for starters my son has just woken from his nap and he's sat in front of the TV while I'm finishing this blog post. But I'm logging off now and I'm going to put my phone on silent as I've promised to spend the afternoon playing with him. Wish me luck.

Abbie Dando is a journalist, press officer and blogger, who has been working with Row.co.uk on its 'Are you a socia-media-lite mummy' research project.

For more information about the research visit Row.co.uk or tweet @abbiedando

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