My younger son is, without a doubt, addicted to his phone. I wish he wasn’t. I wish he would spend less time on it. But I’ve realised there’s not a lot I can do about it. We did have some rules, but they soon got broken. The only one he really sticks to is turning it off at 9.30pm on a school night.
He takes a fair bit of stick from the family for the amount of time he spends on it. But he’s not the only one – my eldest and daughter spend a lot of time on theirs too. The main difference is that my son sits in his room on his (although the door is open and we can got and talk to him). The family say he’s boring or anti-social for being on his phone. I say you just have to find the little spark to ignite his interest and get him off it.
Because he will come off it eventually. He’s playing games, watching funny videos and communicating with his friends, but he’s also right up with news and current affairs, because of the time he spends on his phone. Sometimes he will appear to tell us about the news or the funny videos.
On the way home from school and at mealtimes, I ask him lots of questions. I might have to ask him 10 questions before that little bit of interest is sparked, but once it is, he’s like a new boy. A new light comes into his eyes, a new energy into his body.
So, for example, I asked what exams he’d had one day. And how was his art exam? What did he draw? Did he think he’d done well? Then I’ll ask after a couple of his friends – did they enjoy it, did they do well? And then suddenly he came to life, to tell me that three of the boys had ‘finished’ their art in 10 minutes. He was shocked by this and told me everything the teacher had said. If I hadn’t kept asking questions, he never would have shared that information with me, he would have just kept tapping away at his phone.
Pokemon Go is a different beast. It’s on his phone, but it gets him out and about. It’s been coming and going a bit in our lives over the past few months, but the recent changes to the gyms have sparked his interest again and have got him out and about, just in time for the summer holidays. Over the course of three days at the start of the holidays, he and his friend walked over 50 miles playing.
And if all else fails and he’s spent too long on his phone, it just takes my husband to say ‘Shall we go and kick a football about?’ and the phone is put down and he’s out of the door like a shot.
Phones are good. But they’re not as good as football.