No sweetie, you can’t play with my phone

smart phone baby phone

Going into this I felt pretty strongly about protecting my kid against things like excessive screen time, obsession with phones, watching television etc. Well, at least the holier than thou part of me wanted to be. Having TV on in the background was ok, I surmised, since that’s the way I grew up, but I don’t want someone showing Sam their screen… because that’s crossing a line… isn’t it? Or maybe it’s just a sign of the changing times.

Because I was conscious of it. I actively tried to limit my phone use when he was ‘aware’. If he was awake we didn’t watch TV, we kept him company. We played with him.

But here’s the thing. A phone is not just something you use to call and text anymore. And even though I actively try not to just grab my phone for no reason, I still pick it up a hell of a lot. In the old days you’d wait for the hourly weather on the radio… now I check the weather app to find out what we need to wear for our walk. If I want to play music, bam, I pick up my phone and open another app. And if I suddenly remember something, I don’t pull out a piece of paper like I used to, I add it to the lists in my phone.

We also use our phones for video calls to the grandparents overseas. Because that’s the only way they can get to know their grandson. There’s literally no other option.

When I feed lying down, he can’t see me typing messages behind his head as he zones out. He doesn’t know there’s a tablet that I’m watching Netflix on… except now he does. He swivels his head round and wants to see what’s going on. And he reaches for our phones. He wants to know what this odd thing that we use all the time is.

So even though I went into this thinking one way, I’ve discovered I’ve had to blur the lines a little. Because I can’t shelter him from everything. I guess it’s no different from anything that’s gone on before. Our parents worried that TV rotted our little brains, we worry that phones rot their little brains, and by the time Sam is grown there will be something else to worry about.

So all we can do is what we’re doing now – be active with him when he needs us, but recognise that it is ok to pick up a phone, a kindle or a tablet while he’s independently playing because that is what we do these days.

In fact, Sam recently got his own phone. With buttons that play sounds and music. On one hand it seems unnecessary, but on the other, maybe it’s a great idea. Because now if he reaches for our phones we hand him his instead. So I guess all we can do is be present with him and try to not worry too much about the digital future!


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