Wireless devices – a blessing or a curse?

Dadbloguk

Our regular dad John Adams asks this month whether we should leave the wireless devices at home when we take the kids to play? What’s your take?

There’s a spot near our home that’s popular with parents who want to let their kids off the leash so they can charge off on bikes, skateboards and anything else with wheels. The horrendous British weather held it together yesterday just long enough for me to pay this spot a visit with our eldest daughter as she wanted to ride her bike.

When we arrived there were four other sets of parents. My daughter shot off on her bike while I retreated to a bench and put on my rollerblades (yes, I am a rollerblading dad).

It was at this point I noticed something  that made me feel quite sad. Of all the parents looking after their kids, only two of us weren’t mucking about with our mobile phones. This went on for quite some time, one little boy in particular being left entirely to his own devices while his mum had her face buried in her handset, occasionally lifting her head to shout out words of encouragement as he did circuits on his bike.

I’m not throwing stones here. I’m sure at times we’ve all been distracted by our mobiles, tablets, laptops or maybe even some old fashioned piece of technology like the TV. I was just struck at how many of the parents were clearly lost in their own little ‘wireless world’ when they could have been paying attention to their children.

A while ago I recall reading a magazine article about how wireless technology and how it had supposedly allowed men to leave the office and spend more time with their kids. The writer concluded this wasn’t really the case. They said the reality was it had released men from the office, so they could visit the play park with their kids and make a bad job of watching over them while continuing to work on their Blackberry.

Where am I going with this? I’m going to make a concerted effort not to go near my phone or the iPad when looking after the children. I think it’s quite healthy to stay off the wireless devices for a few hours each day.

I’d be interested to hear what you think though. Is this a problem in your household? Are mums or dads worse at being distracted? If it was a problem for you, what did you do about it?

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About John Adams

John Adams is a married with two young daughters. He has been a stay at home dad for almost four years. John started blogging back in 2012 after being invited to one-too-many "mother and toddler groups." This inspired him to write about the issues he faced as a stay at home dad and the gender barriers men face as parents. John continues to write about lie as a stay at home dad. He also writes about every aspect of parenting; schooling, education, pregnancy and birth, childcare and so on. Over time he has broadened the focus of his blog so he now writes about family finances, photography and occasionally covers men's style and fashion. John was originally a journalist. He concedes, however, that was a long time ago.

9 Responses to Wireless devices – a blessing or a curse?

  1. Kate, Baby Routes 22 May 2013 at 10:48 #

    It’s hard sometimes to switch off from smartphones etc. and checking devices becomes a bad habit but I’m with you on the importance of dedicating electronic free time to our kids, especially since seeing their parents do so makes it so much harder for them not to be glued to similar devices as soon as they have access to them.

    I think the problem also extends to over-zealous use of smartphone cameras too, with a desire to capture every happy moment for posterity actually reducing our ability to live in and enjoy the moment itself. I know I am guilty of this at times despite actively trying not to be. It’s a worry that our virtual lives, whether online or through photos, seem to be becoming more important than the joy of real ‘being’!

    Fortunately our local park seems to have no wireless signal helping avoid temptation!

  2. John Adams 22 May 2013 at 22:16 #

    Hi Kate – that’s an excellent point you raise about camera phones. I hadn’t thought of that but it can definitely be an issue. It’s also an interesting point you make about children seeing their parents using wireless devices and the impact it may have on them. Doesn’t set a good example at all does it?

  3. Nisha 23 May 2013 at 09:41 #

    I do get angry at my husband for using his mobile a lot when he’s supposed to be looking after the kids. Other times he puts a cartoon on and gives the phone to my daughter if he’s busy. I’m sure its not good for her but then she’s very good at using it too. But then again that is the way the world is going. We can’t stop IT and gadgets being part of their lives. Most days I’m with them and I make a conscious effort to have a tv and gadget free time although I am guilty of using the camera phone a lot.

    • John Adams 24 May 2013 at 19:23 #

      Thanks for your comment. I’m afraid kids do get introduced to technology at a younger age these days. The world has changed and I’ve had an interesting conversation or two with older relatives on this subject.

      Oh, and feel free to show your husband this blog post *ducks and runs*

  4. Franglaise Mummy 24 May 2013 at 18:28 #

    Great post and a great reminder to switch off and enjoy our kids – thanks!

  5. John Adams 24 May 2013 at 19:20 #

    Thanks for commenting. I see parents mucking about with their phones all the time when they’re out with the kids but when I saw so many of them at it the other day it made me feel quite sad truth be told.

  6. Jeremy 28 May 2013 at 16:17 #

    Thanks for raising this John. I have been talking a lot about this subject with friends recently. The minister in my church raised it in his sermon 2 weeks ago – leading to me write a post about it – because I think it is a real issue.
    My brother and his wife now put their phones away when they are with their kids because they have realised that it just gives the wrong message – it makes their kids think that the device is more important/ interesting than they are.
    Surely not the message we want our kids to get!

    My post is here if you have a moment! – http://dadetc.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/when-youre-there-be-there.html

  7. Louise Barrett 28 May 2013 at 19:46 #

    This is a great post. We went out for the day yesterday to Forbidden Corner in North Yorkshire. There is absolutely no mobile phone signal there at all so it meant that all the mobiles were in pockets and bags not be constantly checked. It was absolutely packed there, it was so lovely to see families just enjoying being with each other.

    I can highly recommend Forbidden Corner too, not just because of the lack of mobile signal.

    Louise
    x

  8. Siobhan C 05 June 2013 at 12:01 #

    John, thanks for this post. I’m with you 100% on this issue. Its so easy to keep checking your phone when out with the kids and so i’m mindful not to as much as poss (i deliberately didn’t have wireless for a long time for this very reason but then found i was tempted to text). My husband is more ‘relaxed’ about this than me and so can be a point of disagreement (!), and yet I feel passionately that it sends all the wrong msg to our kids, like the previous commenter said, that the device is more imp that our kids at that v moment (or wives). Its all down to boundaries isn’t it? The phone itself isn’ the problem its our ability to lay down good boundaries and then have the self control to maintain them. Being fully ‘present’ to each other is becoming harder and harder and its going to have long term detrimental effects, I’m sure of it. Answer? Yes, it probably is, leave it at home. If there’s an emergency there’s bound to be someone else with a phone you can borrow…..!