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What we can learn from the woman who went a week without her phone

We’ve all done it, surely. We’ve peered down at that mesmerising little thing in our hands and wondered whether our attention should actually be spent on the kids, the partner or the family dog.

The smartphone, the tablet, the gadgets — they’re commanding our attention now more than ever before and the people around us are suffering for it. One woman even said her phone addiction was so great that it was making her a “terrible mother”.

The mum in question is Meredith Hale and she said she was experiencing a smartphone addiction. She’d leave the kids buckled in the backseat of the car in the shopping centre carpark while she sat up the front flicking through e-mails and notifications.

She promised them “just one more minute” of endless scrolling before devoting more of her time to them.

Hale wrote about her experience in a piece published by the Washington Post, which has resonated with many.

She talks about how she found herself checking her Facebook early in the morning and checking her own blog before going to bed at night. The addiction is real, she said, and it was stopping her from being the parent her children deserved.

After telling her readers that she had returned her own daughter’s tablet, which she took because she was worried about how it would impact her ability to connect with people offline, she realised she was being a hypocrite.

“Could I expect my daughter to stay off the screen when I was glued to it 24/7?” Hale mused.

So, Hale ditched the phone for a week. An entire week. No Facebook likes or instant online gratification, and she only used the phone for texts and calls. No internet; that was strictly for work-related activities on the computer and only when the children were asleep.

What did Hale learn from the experience? Did her kids jump with jubilation with this new deviceless mum of theirs, happy to have the attention back from the phone? Not really. The kids went on being kids — messy, untidy, adorable, fun kids. But the realisation came during the more tedious of parenting tasks, which made her see that she was using technology as a distraction during the less exciting moments of being a parent.

What Hale gained from the experience is truly beautiful, though. Because away from the fluorescent distraction of the phone, Hale noticed things. She noticed how much joy her son got from turning the page of a book. She noticed that her daughter was now a fan of both Anna and Elsa from the film Frozen and she even saw pride glisten in their eyes — something she never noticed while flicking trough notifications and comments on her phone.

Is it time you, too, went without the phone for a week? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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