In Defense of the Smartphone
Updated: Feb 11
Pretty much as soon as smart phones began to be widely available - and especially when social media landed on our shores like a tsunami - these were the kind of comments we started see and hear about parents and their phones:
“She’s always on it”
“He should be playing with his kids, not playing on his phone”
“It’s such a bad example when you’re stuck to a screen - what about their children?”
“Maybe if they read to their children as much as they read social media, their kids would do better in school”
I’m sure you’ve heard these, or something similar, and frankly I’m tired of it.
Because here’s the truth: I love my phone and I honestly think it makes me a better parent. It’s okay to say it out loud. During all the phases of parenting, my cell phone has been indispensable.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
Giving me something to listen to and watch while I spent hours bopping my babies to sleep
Easily documenting important moments in my family’s lives
Being a source of information when I’m not sure about what I’m doing
Reminding me of important events, meetings, birthday parties and appointments
Helping me communicate more easily with my family and other parents
I’m sure if you think about it for a bit, you could add to this list!
“Yay for phones! Phones enable me to work and run around WITH my kids, AND be with them, AND get some work done! The alternative is me NOT being with them because I have to be AT work. It's all about balance. I don't appreciate being judged for it either”
“Hubby hates me on my cell phone but without it I wouldn’t have figured out cloth nappies, had an empowered birth, breastfed successfully, connected with friends who now also have kids and even have the job I have now! Of course there where real people involved to.”
“Before smart phones i had to sit at a physical computer while baby slept to get into forums about baby. Now its much easier. Reading books on my phone in the middle of the night helps me stay awake. My baby gets lots of eye contact. I have to put my phone away as she wants to play with it now. People see us on our phones enjoying a coffee but don't realise that some of us have shopping lists recipes forums on our phones”
And this one was just perfect:
“Mothers have always found ways to keep busy while breastfeeding. Our parenting practices are far more responsive than they've been for a very long time AND we have far less physical support than we've ever had. You're HOLDING your baby and feeding them when they ask for feeding. I bet even with that phone you're glancing down and smiling. Talking. Engaging.
Use the phone when it feels needed. If you're worried it's being used too much, focus on baby for the first 5 minutes of your feeds, or some other time frame - It's that easily remedied.”
Look, I understand why so many people are concerned about our phone usage. We can let it get out of hand, and it is possible that it can pull you away from many important moments with the people who are physically there. But really, that can be said about anything, and modern smartphones now have usage and attention monitoring helps that really do help you moderate how much you use your phone.
Frankly, I couldn’t do AfroDaddy without my old Huawei Mate 10 Pro. For the last three years, I’ve used this little black rectangle to make videos, podcasts and blog posts and to connect and respond to pretty much every member of this community. In fact, I think that if you asked any blogger they’d tell you that their device is critical to their content creation process.
So, let’s back off the phones a bit, and be a little less judgey when we see that busy parent on his phone at school drop off - for all we know, he’s doing some critical parenting thing that can only be done on his phone at that point.