parent opinion

'My average screen time was over 9 hours.' What happened when I tried to quit my phone.

Nine hours and thirty-two minutes. 

That was my daily average screen time. 

It’s bad. I know. 

Watch: There is a way to break your phone addiction. Story continues below. 

Video via Mamamia.

In my defence, my work is primarily based around social media. I run a business that relies on the time spent uploading content, responding to emails, and taking Zoom meetings. 

 At least that’s what I tell myself when im lying awake at night Googling "how to feel less guilt about being a working parent constantly on a screen." 

The truth is, like many adults existing in 2023, I’m addicted to my phone. 

My child pointed this out during an argument about her iPad time.

It's currently school holidays and like every parent I am raging the battle between letting my children on their devices so I can work and fretting about them morphing into little screen addicted robots. 

My daughter quickly put the spotlight on my position of hypocrisy.


Despite my constant argument that it was different due to my work commitments, I left that familiar unease of the truth bubbling beneath the surface. 

So I looked my beautiful daughter in the face and told her that for one week of these holidays, I would give up my phone. Set an example. A complete digital detox. 

I let my business partner know that whilst I would check in on emails at night on the laptop, I would otherwise be switching off. I let my close friends and family know they could contact my husband if there was anything urgent, but otherwise I was offline.

I turned my phone off and tried to ignore the spark of panic I felt when the screen went black and placed it in a draw. 

Day one.

I felt smug. Look at me. Free. Unbound. 

I took my four children for a walk, ignoring the eye rolls that ensued as I took every opportunity to point out how great it was that we didn’t have any devices with us. 

I looked around at everyone else lost in their phones. "Ah that used to be me." Missing it all. Not taking in the beauty of nature. Of the world. Most of all I realised... I WAS BORED!

God, walking is boring. Usually when I walk it’s with my dog accompanied by a favourite podcast. I'm lost in deep thought and silent debate and laughter. Instead, I had the soundtrack of my children complaining. 


The youngest two had descended into a fight because my seven-year-old kept stepping on my three-year-olds shadow. My older two whined they were hot and there were too many flies. But at least I was present!

The next few days were extremely hard. The urge to not just check emails at night but go on social media was nearly unbearable. But I stuck to it, mostly because I needed to say that I could. 

I was angry that I was struggling so much. Why was it so hard?!

I love my life. I love my kids.  

But I realised it was hard because when you are a mum at home, your life can become extremely small. It felt as though I had boarded up all the windows and doors to my life.

Yes, social media can be an insidious beast but it’s also been a gift. Women have always been storytellers. We share and relate to each other on a deep and primal level. Instead of cavemen times telling our tales around a campfire, our meeting grounds are now online. 

Through group chats we can seek wisdom and advice or simply hear the chorus of "me too" on an especially bad day. A place to be called by our name, instead of just 'mum'.

Listen to Mamamia's parenting podcast This Glorious Mess. Story continues below.

Podcasts have given us the ability to listen to other stories and make meaningful moments out of boring tasks like folding washing. To be educated and be given access to other women's stories across the globe. Or yes, sometimes a simple distraction.  


Without my phone I had taken away nearly all other adult interaction and to put it quite simply, I felt lonely.

After the week ended, I realised there were many positive outcomes. 

During that looooong week, I finished reading an entire book. I was completely present for my children and listened with intent. I had more sex because I wasn’t lying back to back with my husband in bed. My attention span was better. Things slowed down. 

The whole experience has made me reduce my hours and approach my phone mindfully, especially around my kids.  

But I’d be lying if I said I was happier without my phone. 

That I wasn’t dying to burst open the windows and doors once again to the rest of my world. To check in on all the parasocial bonds I had formed, to return to the campfire. 

To feel less alone. 

Katie Chambers is a 35-year-old Melbourne based mum of four. She is a freelance writer and the co-owner of Melbourne based cake decorating company Cake for Days.   

Feature Image: Supplied.   

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