Optus has sponsored a series with Mamamia exploring different families’ relationships with technology. Andrew Daddo shares his with us.
I’ve just about given up with the “Get off your phone, Bro”. And the “Really, are you on that thing again?” I have partly because I can see it’s a losing battle, which is not a reflection of my children; that they are rotten and won’t listen to their darling father. They’re not, and they do listen – sometimes.
But I haven’t given away the “Get off your phone” game altogether. You have to understand I’m bogged in another time – call it the ‘Yesterday is Hero Complex’, but I tend to lean on the olden days like some crutch of happiness.
They were great, you know. This is ages ago – I’m talking pre-BMX.
Back when dragsters ruled and racing bikes were for weirdos. When magpies would peck the lids of our home delivered milk bottles to steal the cream. There was a time before seat belts and turbos and fuel injection. Footy jumpers were made of wool (which sucked), umpires wore white and were called white maggots. Cricketers didn’t wear numbers or have their names on their backs.
There were no giant screens at the footy!
There was even a band called Kiss! Think your Dad in a terry towelling hat – or a square hanky with knots tied in the corners on your grandpa’s head.
In a warped, almost embarrassing way, that’s where I’m spiritually moored, and I do recall it being quite good fun.
I may also incorrectly recall that in those days, every spare moment was spent in search of adventure. And my fear has always been that if you are head down in your phone in your spare moments, it’s pretty hard to find something new.
The issue, as I’m reminded often, is I’m seeing things entirely the wrong way. That search for adventure and something new, is alive and well. It’s being sought out and discovered, it’s just the method has changed. A smartphone, as everyone knows, is literally the key to Pandora’s Box where a world of worlds exists for the discovery and the taking.
I get it, but that doesn’t always stop me boring my kids with, ‘put down your phone.’ I’ve talked to my parents, and they reckon they would have said, “Turn off the TV!” about a million times. But then, there was every chance they’d boot us off the couch and watch Countdown as well.
How good is parenting? How good is muddling through?
How good is figuring out why the heck they’re so into their phones in the first place? They’re not exactly going anywhere, so I’d be better off batting for Team Acceptance than Team Denial because denial rarely wins. As my Pappy used to say, if you’re going to get on board, you might as well understand what’s going on.
So here’s what’s happening.
Over the past couple of years, we’d had no interest in giving our teenagers a complex about their phone use – they’ve got enough to worry about so to force them into the shadows or other rooms so they can use their phones is a very bad idea, that’s pretty obvious.