Do we really need to feel bad for looking at our phones?

I see this sort of stuff every so often on social media – technology is evil, we all look at our phones too much, our kids are getting ignored and will probably grow up to be… well the direct consequence isn’t usually mentioned but I assume it’s something horrific… etc etc.

My first reaction when I read these types of posts is…

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Basically I DO THAT AND THEREFORE I AM AN AWFUL PARENT!

I then make a promise to myself to stop looking at my phone so much and feel a bit better. Except I don’t feel that much better because when I have time to think about it properly, I actually get a little bit cross.

You see despite the message being a good one (yes we could all probably cut back a bit) the overriding argument, that technology is to blame for everything that is wrong in modern day parenting just doesn’t wash. My problem here is three-fold: –

1, It’s not just my phones fault. I Ignore my children all the time in many different ways.

When I’m cooking dinner, chatting to another mum on a play-date and even when I’m just daydreaming about getting smashed on Pina Coladas at the swim up bar on pre-kid holidays to the Carribbean with my friend Jane.

Ignoring your kids is not technology specific. In fact sometimes I wonder if all the bad rap it gets means that parents actually engage with their kids far more than was common in previous generations. I’m pretty sure I used to get ignored frequently as a child, as did we all, because banging on about the ways parents were letting their children down just wasn’t really ‘a thing’.

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To be fair to my dad he never actually told me to f*ck off but I’m pretty sure the sentiment was there. I remember crawling around on pub floors making towers out of beermats and do you know what? I bloody loved it (and still do).

2, Ignoring your kids is actually a bit good for them. 

Honestly who sits about watching their kids play happily in order to shout encouragements at them? If my kids are happy then I’m damn sure doing something else. I tell them how great they are and how much I love them frequently but they do not need to hear it 24/7.

Do you ever watch the X-Factor auditions and wonder how the hell some of the contestants on it think they can actually sing? You see their families in the wings building them up and cheering them on whilst they make of fool of themselves on national television.

This is those people…

tower2

Normal people get ignored in life all the time and there ain’t nothing wrong with being normal, normal suits most people just fine.

Continuously bigging your kid up puts them at an increased risk of becoming a massive twat.

3, Why are parents always trying to guilt trip each other?

Yay go me I’ve just added ‘looking at my phone too much’ as ANOTHER thing on my list of all the bad stuff I do. Including shouting too much, feeding them chicken nuggets twice in one day and locking myself in the bathroom to eat a secret Twix because their whining is making my head want to explode.

Looking after kids at home on your own, especially if you are stuck indoors on a rainy day, can be boring. In fact scratch that, it can be really f*cking tedious.

No one would say it’s ok to pass them a pack of Pringles and whack the tellie on for 12 hours straight but taking 10 minutes to look at Facebook because you are about to go out of your fricking mind is probably more healthy than not.

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So in conclusion – don’t ignore your kids all the time bla bla bla, take em down the park bla bla bla, look at your phone sometimes because it’s ok to have a life bla bla bla and you’ll probably be just fine.

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37 thoughts on “Do we really need to feel bad for looking at our phones?

  1. Rebecca

    Brilliant! I too read these articles and see these images and think of the irony of ignoring my baby whilst I read them. At the moment he’s asleep on me whilst I read blogs. WIN! :-) x

    Reply
  2. Carie

    Yes yes and yes ;). At the moment I’m reading Thisbe aide my baby has his eyes tight shut and I am meeting all his needs merely by existing. Also if I don’t read something on my phone I think I might fall asleep too and one of us would be bound to fall out of the chair!

    Reply
  3. Hannah Atkinson

    I completely agree. Fab post as always. My son could do with being ignored a bit more every now and then. It’s good for them and the best way to develop imagination. I remember playing for hours as a child and I didn’t do that with my Mum watching me. She was doing what she needed to do

    Reply
  4. Rachel @ The Ordinary Lovely

    There’s very little that riles me but all this guilt-tripping about ignoring our kids and life because we’re too busy looking at our phones seriously annoys me. Swap a picture of a mother looking at her phone with a photo of her reading Proust or the Economist and she’d be commended for being intellectual and trying to educate her children. I think it’s because phones are still relatively new and seen as the root of all social evil where books are a sign of interest and intellect. I could be reading William Blake on my phone ready to discuss the Songs of Innocence and Experience with my five year old. I’m not but I could be ;)

    Reply
  5. Juliet

    Love this!! currently hiding in the kitchen eating chocolate whilst getting popcorn for my 4 yr old who (thank f**k) wants to watch a movie whilst my 2 year old naps!! Happy afternoon on Facebook for me :-) sometimes the stars align x

    Reply
  6. Sunita @luckythings.co.uk

    Good one! Not all of us can have a glass of gin at times so a dose of humour will be just as good. Cartoons say it all too. Now I’ve just launched my new blog I really don’t want my little ones to be seeing me on the iPhone or iPad too much! X

    Reply
  7. Tim

    Totally agree. I don’t think it’s something to beat ourselves up over too much. I mean, compare us to our parents’ generation – that would be the children-should-be-seen-not-heard generation – and we’re super-interactive. There must be a quiz on Facebook I can look up that proves this …

    Reply
  8. Becki

    I would love to look at my phone but the second I have it in my hand ….. ‘Mummy! Digger game!’ And it is snatched away and then he ignores me instead!

    Reply
  9. Meryl

    Have you read the ‘Alfie’ story where the dad takes him to the park with the paper and the illustration is of the dad sitting on a bench reading said paper while Alfie splashes in puddles. THAT is what our parents used to do. Take us to things and read the paper. Children have been ignored through the generations :)

    Brilliant blog post as always. Love it! Thank you.

    Reply
  10. Lauren | Belle du Brighton

    I used to feel a bit guilty at the amount of time I spend on my phone, but then if it wasn’t to hand I couldn’t take photos of them when they do stupid things (like playing with the springy door boinger today) and sticking them on instagram, could I?

    parenting is pretty synonymous with guilt, sadly!

    Reply
  11. Elena

    This sounds very – probably internationally true – especially about previous generations engaging less and ignoring more. One of my earliest memories is from when I was around 3, waking up earlier than everyone else in the household and quietly sitting alone in the kitchen listening to the radio, and it’s a good memory too, I enjoyed it. Sometimes I was allowed in the parents bed in the mornings if I lay there super quietly and motionlessly. I don’t know how they accomplished it though, my toddler yells “MAAAAMA!” the moment the alarm goes off, and what follows is me scurrying around the room, frantically looking for reading material to appease him with while I make breakfast, while he comments “No, not this one, I read this yesterday. No, not about the forest, I don’t like that one!”

    Reply
  12. Isobel Whitby

    LOVE THIS! My favourite line has to be ‘Continuously bigging your kid up puts them at an increased risk of becoming a massive twat.’

    Reply
  13. Jenny

    Love your perspective on this and your love for beermats too ahaha that was me too. :) Although not in a pub in the states but our house hahahaha I hope you don’t mind me sharing this post tomorrow on my #LittleLoves round up. ;) It’s brilliant Katie. Can’t wait to see you next week at Mumsnet

    Reply
  14. Notmyyearoff

    Hahhaaaa this made me laugh so much. Twenty years ago it was acceptable to let your 7 year olds play out in the neighbourhood whilst you got on with whatever else you wanted. I think phone make up for that these days. Btw…you should totally make that fbook tally sheet into a Mothers Day card :)

    Reply
  15. Dr Leila Edwards

    Hmmm, OK, I’ve never thought that parents were perfect before mobiles and the internet. However, I don’t remember ever seeing families sitting reading books or the paper whilst out to dinner together, whereas it’s quite normal to see mums, dads, and all the kids, as well as friends and couples completely ignoring each other whilst in social situations stuck on the phone/tablet texting, checking emails, etc. Even when at the movies!! And, on the topic that was raised about overdoing praise and positive feedback, I highly recommend taking a look at Professor Carol Dweck’s TED talks and other related vids on YouTube on her research on the difference between a ‘fixed mind set’ and a ‘growth mind set’. Praising effort and pointing out what a kid’s done well and encouraging them tends to boost a growth mind set that increases creativity and effort, whereas telling them how smart they are, etc. and giving generalised praise for their very being tends to promote a fixed mind set in which kids see themselves as being one thing or another. The same applies to giving criticism constructively, being specific and not just general/global comments. Carol Dweck is also great on how she ‘cured herself of perfectionism’!

    Reply
  16. Emma

    Sure I’m reading this while my kids sit at the table and eat their tea. I’m ‘supervising’ from the sofa. Kids NEED to be ignored and left to get on with things. No way am I going to spend every minute entertaining them!!! I love your posts – you make me laugh and I talk about my kids in just the same way.

    Reply
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  18. Hannah

    I love this (mainly because im guilty at times and it makes me feel much better!), and i always think of the irony too when reading those articles. And i love the beer mats, I had completely forgotten about them from my childhood!

    Reply
  19. Evelyn

    You know, a pack of Pringles and 12 hours of television once in a blue moon is probably just fine. *dodges flying tomatoes*
    Seriously, they are likely to turn the damn thing off themselves after 4 or 5 hours from boredom (ask me how I know. On second thoughts, maybe don’t).

    Reply
  20. Gemma @ gemslittletreasures

    Such a fab article! you put everything into perspective. I have such a huge list of things i do badly and I think us mums have got to cut ourselves some slack! I use my my phone to catch up on some fab blogs too, surely thats 5 mins well spent! x

    Reply
  21. Andi

    Kudos. I HATE mum blogs. they belong in room 101 – but this is the kind of mum blog i would write if i wrote one. – mum of four. eldest 20 – i ignored him all the time – ya know what – hes a fecking rocket scientist – studying his masters in Aerospace Engineering :D

    Reply
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  23. Katie @mummydaddyme

    I saw this doing the rounds on facbeook but just got around to reading it. So funny. And so true as always. ;) I love this bit the best- ‘Continuously bigging your kid up puts them at an increased risk of becoming a massive twat.’ Hahahaha! x

    Reply
  24. Louise Parry

    Thank god I’m not the only one who occasionally hides in the bathroom in order to eat secret chocolate! We all love our children and we’re there for them completely when it matters but we also need something for ourselves to stop us going completely nuts.
    Brilliant post as always; an important messages whilst at the same time having a bloody good giggle.

    Reply
  25. Cat

    Wholeheartedly applaud the sentiments in this article. I’d add that ‘looking at your phone’ can cover a whole multitude of productive and functional tasks – such as ordering shopping (like groceries, not fun shopping!), responding to urgent emails, checking the train times… – it’s not always just randomly browsing facebook.

    We read a lot about how smartphones lead to a 24/7 on-call type culture for work and the expectation that emails will be read and dealt with even when one is not officially working. For those of us juggling part-time work and childcare, that is a major cause of ‘head in phone’ syndrome. I think people might feel differently if they considered that the lady apparently texting or tweeting in the park while her child plays might actually be working because none of her colleagues are capable of respecting her childcare responsibilities.

    Reply
  26. Melba

    I learnt about you page today, and I love it. I actually went through the first 9 years of my children’s lives offline, paying a lot of attention to my children, little of which they now remember of course. Now that they are 16, and there are maybe 5 minutes a day when they can be bothered to interact with me, I admit I have felt (a little) guilty when I respond distractedly in those brief moments!

    Reply
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  28. David

    Just read the blog, good stuff, might get my to in from the garden now, the youngest gets scared in the dark after 3/4 hours.

    Reply
  29. Kimberly Wright

    I love this this-bloody fantastic! We certainly get way too much pressure as parents now. Like you I remember the days every Saturday I was taken to the pub, in a smokey atmosphere having to go to the toilet to wet a tissue and wipe my eyes and then go sit in the back room playing domino’s and draw pictures on the dart board all on my own with a blackcurrant cordial, a bag of crisps or pork scratchings if I was lucky and use my imagination. I actually quite enjoyed it-I think! We used to only get pressies on birthdays and Christmas and new shoes etc every new term. I love my child to bits but I am the first to admit she is spoilt and guess what!? It’s my fault and I still feel guilty as hell! Hurrah for gin, thank you for putting everything into perspective

    Reply
  30. MMT

    From my phone, whilst ignoring my kids who are happily drawing / watching the Goonies (winning), I’m sending you a big high five. Thanks for clearing this one up in a totally hilarious manner.
    X MMT
    (How have I never read your blog before?! I’ll be back!)

    Reply

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