Put the bloody phone away!

Here comes a rant and I’m afraid I’m going to come across as a bit of a hypocrite.

I am a BIG fan of modern communication channels. I’m have four (yes, four!) Twitter accounts and tweet several times a day; I’ve got a Facebook page associated with my blog; another one for my makeup business and keep in touch with my friends on my personal profile. I’ve even started Instagramming my lunch. I struggled to come to terms with the lack of any phone or data signal when we were in Norfolk last week and checked my emails as soon as we were within range during days out.

But sometimes all this connectivity makes me mad.

Last night I went out for dinner with a friend. On the table next to us a family of four were having a meal. Half of them were interacting only with their mobile phones, rather than with each other. It was the parents, who must have been in their late 40s, who were glued to their glowing screens – not the teenagers. All four ate in silence.

It’s the modern version of the ‘dining dead’.

I understand that parents of young kids need to have their phones with them just in case the babysitter calls, but these parents were with their children.

I’ve talked before about how difficult it must have been for my parents to have no way of contacting me while I travelled during my gap year. But as a society we seem to have reached the other extreme. We have so many ways to communicate with each other, it’s become impossible to switch off.

Last night, all around us groups of people were eating with their phones on the table in front of them. To me, this sends out a clear message that someone more important/interesting/fanciable might try to make contact. It’s the equivalent of constantly looking over someone’s shoulder while they’re talking to you.

I admit I find it difficult not to check my phone for more than an hour at a time, but I am determined not to check my messages at the dinner table. My kids aren’t old enough for mobile phones yet, but I dread the inevitable squabbles about putting the phones away.

If you have kids with mobile phones, I’d love to know how you manage their ‘screen time’. Please post your comments below or on one of my many social media channels!