- Hazel Butterfield
- 21 June 2021
We all use our phones. A lot. Mainly for everyday things such as emails, texts, work and news but it also becomes almost a crutch to alleviate feelings of loneliness and to conquer our fears of ‘missing out’, especially now as the world starts to re-open. We constantly have our phones in our hands. They have become our friends. They are always there for us.
Guest post by Sarah Gibson.
This isn’t just the younger generation though. Those aged 39-54 are the second highest smartphone user group and obviously this figure has increased with people working from home and lockdown.
During the pandemic and the various lockdown's, it was recognised that the mental health of the younger generation in particular was being affected, with the closure of schools and being unable to socialise with friends and extended family and being ‘forced’ to live with family members 24/7, with all the stress they may be experiencing from their having to work from home situation. This stress will be exacerbated if the household is an abusive one and the usual escape routes of work and school aren’t there.
So it’s during these times that supportive, loving, reassuring relationships become even more important than usual. Current research from Imperial College London shows that younger people are more likely to experience adverse mental health consequences both during and after social distancing measures have been lifted.
Surely as parents and responsible adults it’s up to us now to to step up and do our bit to help our children navigate this strange time.
As I have previously mentioned, adults in the age group of 39-54 spend the second largest amount of time on their phones after the 16-24 year olds. They spend a lot of time working from home, on laptops and phones, attending zoom meeting after zoom meeting and bringing all the stress of the workplace to the home. Even though there are more people around than normal, this can lead to a sense of loneliness, especially if the parents are too consumed by their own workload to take time out to be with the family. The stress of home schooling probably added to the tension too, highlighting the solitude caused by the lack of community and support found in the school environment. No easy access to that particular ‘social bubble’.
SO what can we do to help? Firstly, and simply, put down our phones. Be available. Be present. Be ‘there’.
All by just simply putting down our phones. By simply ‘Being There’.
Being there for our children to help them out of the introverted, virtual lifestyle that a smartphone can offer them. Being there for our children to show them that most of social media isn’t reality. It is someone else’s filtered reality. Being there for our children to ask about their day, to ask how they’re feeling, to ask if we can help them in any way at all.
It’s our responsibility to switch off OUR phones as well as telling them not to spend so much time attached to a screen. We need to put aside OUR busy lives to find time to connect on a personal level. It is all too easy whilst working from home to continue to check emails and ‘just finish that report’ and eventually it’s all consuming and there are no boundaries. This can have a serious effect on family life.
Show your children that you value spending time with them. Walking is proven to have a huge positive effect on mental and physical well-being and is the perfect time to just chat, listen and advise if necessary. It’s also good for YOU to get away from the phone and laptop! Again, such a simple thing, yet the health benefits are so beneficial.
However, it’s unrealistic to expect both ourselves and our children to put aside the phone for an extended length of time! Phones are a distraction and can be negative in many ways but with the right education and outlook they can be used to encourage people to look after their own and other peoples’ wellbeing. It can be a great tool to access websites and helplines for all mental and physical issues that you might be experiencing.
So we should encourage our Children to use the apps on their phone to help their self development – access health and fitness programmes via YouTube, practice meditation, learn to cook, practice crafts. This gives young people the opportunity to practice without the fear of ‘looking stupid’ in front of their peers. And they can include you in their self development journey. Take time to experience the fun of learning to cook new dishes together.
BE THERE to help and encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. Watch them grow in a safe and loving space.