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Parents of screen addicts

This year, I have mostly worked with families who are looking for a maternity nurse/nanny to take with them on travel. There are one to four children in the families, and sometimes guest children are added during the trip. More and more I notice that parents don't want to, and don't seem to know how to spend time with their babies and toddlers. The saddest sight is a parent trying to silence a child by giving them a screen. The baby/child has something playing from the tablet or phone and that's it. The scene where the screen holder has been bought for the buggy is particularly horrifying to me. The child on the screen has been numbed by some kind of unrealistically fast flickering character's movements, and real life surroundings are too slow for them. Parents who claim that the screen develops their child are generally screen addicts themselves and do not know how to spend their free time in any other way than by tapping and scrolling on their phone.

Matt Haig has written the book "Notes on a Nervous Planet" and talks about his burnout and how screens actually made him anxious and depressed. The less screens he used the better. He also talks about how screens affect his relationship with his children and wife.

I will quote a good passage from a book that applies to a lot of parents:

Andrea: "Matt, get off the internet"

Matt: "I'm just answering one email."

Andrea: "No. You're lying."

Matt: "OK. I'm on Twitter. But there's a question I need to clear up."

A large number of parents have a daily reality of scolding each other for disappearing to their screen. It occurs more than anyone can imagine. There are families where I have been called to help deal with screen-addicted children, but the reality is that the biggest addicts are the parents. When I'm there to help families, we make a plan, and number one for me is that everyone who comes home puts their phones in a box with a lid by the front door. The first task is already so bone-breaking for the parents that they sit in the car in front of the house and fiddle with the phone, even though my time is already over for that day.

It is not uncommon for parents to point fingers at each other during a home visit as to who spends more time on the phone. When approaching the topic of screens, it can bring out long-standing, unmentioned, complaints couples have with each other and their screen habits.

Nighttime is for sleeping, but screen addicts have their phone next to their bed and it's definitely not on silent (who knows what important things might be missing). However, the side effect of the is that you are tired in the morning. Good quality sleep doesn't come as quickly as the brain takes time to switch off, and sleep disturbances occur from screens lighting up or audible alerts. The bad sleep classically takes its toll in the morning, irritability in general and often directed towards the children.

To be honest, I don't mind if parents decide that what's on their screens is more important than the baby waiting at home, but when you come home and all the phones (usually more than one), tablet and laptop are connected, that means for example, an email notification/message comes to all devices and all devices are set to maximum volume, then in my opinion (this is my personal opinion), this is a clear sign of screen addiction and anxiety disorder. If you can't even spend a few hours at home with your family, why did you even bother leaving the office?

When you get home, you don't rush to the child who is crying for attention, but after every beep and ringing of the phone, you rush out of the bathroom or the toilet to be the first to react to what is happening on the phone. Surely that stupid video that someone just sent can survive without an immediate response.

It really drives me crazy and it takes a lot of effort not to lose my temper and say something really bad!


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