Is Your Child The Only One Having Problem?
Last week’s article titled “073 Insights Gathered From Fighting Phone Addiction” garnered much interest. Many friends shared with me more stories.
A father A was concerned that his three-year-old son was becoming restless, irritable or even agitated when the phone was taken away. A mother B was dismayed that she had to resort to texting her teenage daughter who preferred to shut herself behind closed doors. Another mother C was upset that her phone-obsessed teenage boy hardly talked to her except when he needed extra money. A mother D pushed back her teenage son’s repeated pleas for hand phone amidst concerns over the peer pressure the boy had to face.
As a parent myself, I understood their worries for their children. But as I listened to them more, a big question emerged, “Is your child really the only person with a phone addiction problem at home?”
Why Do Adults Frown At Children’s Phone Habits?
It was a tempting question that I fell short of asking.
From my observation, more often than not, children are not alone in having a phone problem. But I have yet to meet any adult who admits to being a phone addict. They would say, “I am a heavy phone user.”
Many adults easily rattle off a list of reasons to use phones frequently: for work, social network and to keep abreast of news. And who can blame them for wanting to spend a little time on online entertainment after a long day of work?
Well, children use hand phones for exactly the same reasons: for school work, to be in contact with friends and to be in the know of what’s happening around them. And they, too, need breaks from the monotony of school routine.
So why do adults frown at children’s phone habits then? The way I see it, we adults have a terrible habit of being too lenient to ourselves, and too hard on others.
A Pot Calling The Kettle Black
I am speaking from personal reflection.
At the height of my complaints about the then twelve year old son, Conan’s excessive phone habits, the boy retorted, “Well, I am not complaining that you use phone a lot too.”
I defended quickly, “There is a difference…” before saying, “I know when to stop. But you do not.”
Seeing that Conan made no rebuttal, I went on, “Before you get started on anything, you must have an idea when to stop. Always begin with an end in mind. ”
It was a cliche that you might have heard a thousand times. The truth is people are easily carried away when they catch on to doing something.
Admittedly, there were sporadic periods of time that I became engrossed in all sorts of online entertainment such as latest dramas from a variety of sources. And there was also a prolonged period of time that I was messaging with friends so intensively that I was constantly on a lookout for new messages. Even for blogging, there were also times that I woke up in the middle of the night to do editing.
I was like a pot calling the kettle black. That probably explained why my early efforts to correct my son’s phone habits failed miserably.
Where Had All My Time Gone To?
I should have noticed that my phone habits were spiralling out of control. The red flags were obvious when it began to disrupt the normal routine in my daily life. It was until I abruptly stopped all the time-consuming activities on the phone for several months that I finally resumed control.
We adults tend to underestimate the adverse effects of excessive phone usage on ourselves. If you have been feeling time-deprived, and think that you have so little time for work and personal life, I suggest you do a quick estimate of the hours you are spending on the phone.
In a recent survey by a global consultancy firm TNS, young Singapore adults aged 16-30, spends 3.4 hours a day on mobile devices. That amounts to spending a whopping 24 hours a week! And those aged 46-65 are no better. They spend 2.3 hours a day on their phones, with an additional 1.5 hours of video watching online daily!
Do you now know where all our time has gone to?
Do Not Let Technology Consume You
More cause for alarm is how bad phone habits are hurting relationships between people.
A wife X derided her spouse as a useless father who only knows how to use his hand phone to babysit their toddler. A newly-wedded Y in her early thirties is dissatisfied with a husband who would rather spend long hours playing online games, than to cherish the evenings they have together. And a middle-age man Z stopped having conversations with his wife who is obsessed with watching Korean dramas.
It’s an irony to see how people are becoming more disconnected with the proliferation of smart phone and social media apps that promise to connect people even more.
Technology promises progress, but it also comes with its downsides. Do not let technology consume you. Take charge of your life. Perhaps it’s time to heed a word of caution from Albert Einstein, the titan of modern science.
It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.
William W K Tan
(aka Uncle William)
31 August 2019, Saturday
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