Digital detox - a parental challenge too far?

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I’m counting down to my digital detox.  I’m not taking it well.

It seemed like a great idea when my pint-sized School Hunter told us.  I had no problem telling her she could break her Snapchat line and her Duolingo record.  It was just a day, I said. If you miss the first train and we have to wait, it’s not the end of the world, I said.  Of course you can do 24 hours, I said.

Will you join me? she said.

Of course, I said.

It’s a brilliant idea.  Don’t tell your children you “can’t do maths”.  Children who see their parents playing music are more likely to play too.  Children are more likely to continue with sport into adulthood if their parents did.  We are not a digital family but my daughter still perceives me as being on my phone all the time.  It doesn’t matter that often as not I’m arranging piano lessons or adding milk to the shopping list – in her eyes, my phone never leaves me.

Am I deluding myself?  Our music is still on CDs.  We have no television.  No phones until they leave primary school.  We sit down to eat as a family – no phones.  I can spend the evening with friends without recourse to my phone to show a photo, check a fact or respond to a text.  I’m sure I’m not addicted.

It’s tomorrow, she said.


But tomorrow I have to tweet about school dates.

Tomorrow I have a blog to post.

How will I fix up my meetings without email?

How will I wake up to do the school run?

And I don’t use a shopping list any more.  Marmalade is getting low or someone just finished the cream and it’s straight to the Tesco app.  I don’t want to find a pen and paper. 

And I’m off to a school reunion in London.  How will I book my tickets?  How will I plan my route?  How will I find my way?  How will I call my friend to say I’m running late?  How will I exchange details with old friends?  How will I take photos? 

My life is on my calendar… my family’s lives too.  It’s all on my calendar, in my phone.  Who will remind my parents they have a dentist appointment?  How will I track dementia dad when he gets lost again?  How will I know if school plans change or be able to give my ETA?  How will I know if my train’s delayed?  How will I book the pint-sized challenger into her regatta before the deadline?

Does it count if I put my tweets into Buffer and let them go out tomorrow?  Does it count if I “look but don’t touch”?  Can I see messages ping in as long as I don’t reply?  Am I already finding ways to cheat?

I’ve had a brilliant idea – how about Daddy does it with you instead?  He’s not going to London tomorrow.

He won’t, she said glumly.  He’s worse than you. 

No way, he told me.  Why would I do that?

Now I have a real dilemma.  Being able to beat a spouse at any competition, even a digital detox one, is tantalising.  But when the spouse isn’t playing the game it’s a double whammy – no-one to compete with and that sense of why should I do it if he doesn’t?    And I once did a 30-year digital detox – am I the one that has to prove anything?

The hours are counting down.  I remain undecided.