Friday, April 15, 2016

M: Mobile phones

If you asked 10 people what 5 things are their 'must-haves' or 'things you cant leave home without' would be, most of them would definitely have mobile phones as one of the top things on their lists. That is probably true for me as well.  I'm slightly paranoid about not being available or out of reach either to Pickles' nanny or to my parents when they really need me. Other than that, I'm quite relaxed. I don't really need to look at my whatsapp messages or fb feed for a day or more and I'm still ok. I'll agree that there are days when you'll find me looking at my phone a little more than necessary but you tell me and I'll put it away. I'm reasonable like that.

So, for Pickles we have a no screen policy. That means he doesn't watch TV, no iPads and absolutely no phones. We have made the phone uninteresting for him so far( we don't show him pictures on it either) and hence he can just pass a phone and not react. As far as he is concerned, a phone is just that: a phone. And now at home if I'm talking on the phone a little too much around him, he'll just say "No more phone!" and then I put it down. It's another matter that if I'm texting or just looking into it, he may just take it and fling it away to get my attention. I try now to give him that attention and that hasn't happened very often.

In Singapore, most of my friends who we hang out with either are on the same page as us or they respect us enough to turn off the TV and keep their phones away around Pickles. But during this trip to India and the previous one, I've constantly had to tell people to not lure Pickles with the phone and more so, not to show him the screens of the phone or iPad. Most people are surprised, shocked and some plainly roll their eyes. I've heard the weirdest questions and I've tried to be as patient as I can to answer them but some people just don't get it. And I don't care that they don't, as long as they don't wave their smartphones in Pickles' face. Some of the things I've been asked:

Don't you think he'll miss out on all the fun stuff?
What fun stuff?, I say. I mean isn't there so much around us for him to absorb and enjoy now when his senses are just maturing. Is it necessary for him to watch a documentary on something 10 years down the line, about something he can observe right now in his environment? And he has tons of years to catch up with the 'fun-stuff'. I'm sure there will come a day when he will enjoy watching his cartoons, just not this early.

Don't you think he'll not know how to use a phone and his peers will?
This one really gets me annoyed. I mean, we weren't born with phones. And I think I learned how to use a phone when I was 22 or something. And I turned out alright! I'm sure it wont take him more than 10 minutes to figure out how to use one.

What about the characters that he'll have no clue about?
 I think Pickles gets plenty of exposure from the books he enjoys. And he knows about a few characters and I'm pretty ok with him not knowing about everything. He ought to have newer things that can catch his interest in the days to come.

So, yes! I'm still putting my foot(and phone) down! We'll try and keep the screens away for a couple of more years and I'm damn sure he'll enjoy it just as much later on but he'll have had exposure to many more things and he might just choose to leave his phone behind.


Mandy Justin said...

It's interesting that you are trying to make phones boring. I've heard of parents limiting screen time or just saying no to kids playing on their parents phones, but this is the first I've heard of making it boring. It reminds me of how we are training our dog not to eat from the table – if he doesn't know what the food tastes like, he won't beg when he smells it. Kind of weird comparing a dog to a kid, but it works? Eventually your child will end up playing with phones and using them, but until then I think it's a great lesson in encouraging Pickles to be in the moment and spending time with those he loves (and great encouragement for the people around him who aren't suppose to be using their phones too!). Kudos to you for being such an involved parent! I just think it's awesome that you put your phone down when he asks you to! :)

Maya said...

Thanks, Mandy. Although I'm guilty of picking up my phone whenever I have a spare moment, I'm making a conscious effort to cut down and lose the habit. It's hard being a parent, especially when you know you're being watched and observed all the time.