Most parents wish they had more time to spend with their kids. They also waste untold hours staring at their smartphones. It doesn't take a child genius to see the connection here. If you spend a chunk of every weekend checking social media apps and surfing the web, it might be time to put your children in charge of your mobile devices.
Here's a novel solution. This weekend, let your kids reset the password or parental lock on your phone - without watching them do it.
Over the past few weekends, I've probably used my smartphone more than I strictly need to. It's mostly for mundane, habitual stuff - keeping tabs on site traffic, checking social media and swearing at the rubbish Android port of R-Type. (Whoever designed the touchscreen controls needs a good smack.)
More often than not, it's only a few minutes at a time - but it definitely adds up over the course of a weekend. Meanwhile, my kids sit around my hunched form, patiently (and sometimes not-so-patiently) waiting for me to give them attention.
If this sounds sheepishly familiar, it's time to reassess your priorities. Is that meticulously crafted tweet really more important than some uninterrupted family time? Those rug rats will be all grown up before you know it. If you enforce limited screen time on your offspring, you also run the risk of looking like a massive hypocrite.
Of course, giving up the gadgets is easier said than done. For most people, checking their smartphone is even more essential - and rewarding - than snacking. They don't call it smartphone addiction for nothing.
One novel solution - as recently embraced by US comedian Louis CK - is to put your children in charge of your phone's password. In a recent interview with Conan O’Brien, CK explained how his constant smartphone use had put a strain on his familial relationships. So he decided to let his daughter impose a parental lock on the internet for all his devices.
Watch the exchange below. (Skip to the 1:30 mark.)
If Louis can be believed, he hasn’t looked at the web for over a month. He's subsequently had more time to read actual books and his 10-year-old daughter is reportedly proud of him for cutting himself free of the internet.
The beauty of this solution is that you can technically still use your phone whenever you want - but you need to get your kids to unlock the password first. This means you'll only use it for the stuff that's actually important.
I personally think this is an ingenious hack for so-called smartphone addiction. In addition to forcibly breaking the habit, it makes your kids part of the solution and teaches them some management skills into the bargain. (Just make sure you have a backup solution implemented in case they forget the password!)
Naturally, your kids' predilection for mischief could potentially throw a spanner in the works. At least you'll be "spending time" with them while you throttle them.
What do you guys think about CK's solution? Would you consider it yourself? Let is know in the comments.