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'WILL I MISS MY SON'S FIRST SENTENCE WHILE I READ TEXTS FROM PIZZA HUT?'

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Robyn Wilder wonders if her mobile phone use is getting out of hand...

According to the CAPT (Child Accident Prevention Trust), mobile phones are putting our babies in danger. In a survey, one in four parents said that their child had either had an accident, or nearly had one, while they were checking their phones.

In the time that it takes to check a text, says the CAPT, a child can drown or be seriously burnt.

‘Serious accidents happen in seconds, often while we’re distracted, and mobiles are seriously distracting,’ CAPT chief executive, Katrina Phillips, told the Huffington Post. ‘That’s why we’re encouraging families to turn off technology at pressure points during the day, to help keep children safe.’

This makes sense to me. I have a one-year-old son, and now he’s more mobile and aware of his surroundings than he was as a baby, I feel increasingly uncomfortable about how much I use my phone. Firstly, I’m not sure how safe it is to scroll through WhatsApp when one of the things he most enjoys is standing on the handlebars of his tricycle and reaching for my hot cup of coffee.

'He must already think that our phones are just extensions of our hands.'

And secondly, I don’t want my son growing up thinking that my phone is more important than him. Because, let’s be honest, he must already think that our phones are just extensions of our hands. For as long as he’s been alive, we’ve barely put them down.

We used our phones to google ‘how to keep a newborn alive’ when we first came home from hospital. And, when our son refused to sleep, we downloaded white noise apps and brandished our phones at him like crucifixes at a vampire.

He even does an impression of us on the phone. He’ll pick something up –  a shoe, a toy, a discarded raisin – hold it to his ear and shout ‘HUWWO?’ Then he’ll leave the room, head still angled in to his pretend phone, babbling furiously. My friends think it’s hilarious. I think it’s a damning indictment of my parenting skills. I see it as a sign that I’ll miss my son’s first full sentence because I was too busy reading a promotional text from Pizza Hut. And that sentence will be ‘Mummy, when will I grow an iPhone out of MY hand?’

'Being a new parent is tough and isolating.' 

At the same time, our phones are our saviours. Being a new parent is tough and isolating. My phone is a lifeline to my friends, and I don’t know how I would have got through those long, soul-wrenching hour-long 3am breastfeeding sessions with my sanity intact if I hadn’t been able to fall down a Wikipedia spiral of serial killer biographies (some people have the Daily Mail Sidebar of Shame; I have this).

So now, when we are actively parenting, my husband and I put our phones away, and give our son our full attention. And when he’s asleep we give ourselves quality time. With our phones. Because a happy parent begets a happy child, and everyone likes it when their mum can recite 1970s murder stats by heart.

:: Robyn Wilder is a columnist with The Pool, and blogs at The Parent Crap.

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