This mum's viral "experiment" urges parents to rethink screen time 6 years ago

This mum's viral "experiment" urges parents to rethink screen time

Be honest; how often do YOU look at your phone on any given day? We have all fallen under the spell of the smart phone, it seems, and the ease and comfort it is to literally have the world – and all that's going on in it – at your fingertips.

But there is also no denying that all this liking and pinning and commenting and reading is also taking away attention from the world that is going on right under our noses. Time spent relaxing with something else than the internet. Talking to our partners. Watching our children play.

Just how much we are missing out on when our attention is firmly on our phones or iPads was something California mum Brandie Wood wanted to find out too, and recently shared this very interesting – and disturbing – post to her Facebook page.

While watching her 2-year-old twin boys play, Woods started to make a note of all the times the children looked over to her to make sure she was watching them, to catch her eye, to tell her something or to just seek her approval of what they were doing.

10400770_1135553199807545_6285921182696414111_n

This is what she said:

Advertisement

"Today I did an experiment, I watched my boys play. As I sat quietly in the corner of the room I tallied how many times they looked at me for various reasons: to see if I saw their cool tricks, to seek approval or disapproval for what they were doing, and to watch my reactions. I couldn't help but wonder if I was on some sort of technology what message would I have been sending?"

As the photo in her post shows, Wood tallied 28 times. If she had been on a smartphone those 28 times, she imagined her boys -- Blaine and Rylie -- may have "wondered if the World Wide Web was more important than them."

"28 times my angels would have wondered if the World Wide Web was more important than them. 28 times my boys would have not received the attention most adults are searching for. 28 times my loves would have questioned if they were alone emotionally. 28 times my kids would have been reassured that who you are online is what really matters. In a world where we are accepted as who people perceive us to be and not who we really are, in a world where validation comes from how many followers or likes we have, in a world where quality time with loved ones is being replaced by isolation and text messages from the other room, I beg you to be different. Please put down your technology and spend some time with your family & loved ones. The next generation of children is counting on us to teach them how to beadults, don't be too busy on social media, you never know who is watching and what message you are sending."

The experiment must have struck a cord with parents everywhere, because Wood's post have since been shared close to 73,000 times since it went up on Facebook just days ago.

To The Huffington Post, Woods explains her reason for sharing this  post:

"I think technology should be limited, a healthy balance. Technology is a double-edged sword. It helps and hinders. Everyone should find what works for them. Just being aware will help tremendously. I am guilty of being connected to my phone as well. This experience has completely humbled me to be more present."

I think there is a lesson in here for all of us, about prioritizing our screen time and being present when and where we are really needed. There is a sign hanging on the door of a creche in Oslo, where my nieces attend, with the following words of advice for parents collecting their children:

"You are about to have the most important meeting of your day. Please switch off your phone and be present."

This struck a cord with me, so much so that we now have mobile free afternoons at our house. When we all get home, the phones go on a shelf in the hallway, where they remain until after the children go to bed. In fairness, if they ring, we answer them, of course, but for the majority of the time, they are left there. And what we have discovered, is not only how much more we get to enjoy the children and our time with them between we get home and they go to bed, but also how much time we have for other stuff! Cooking, cleaning, flicking through a magazine (remember those?!) or just talking about our days.

Have YOU set rules for screen time in your house? Join in the conversation on Twitter with us at @Herfamilydotie