Digital cold turkey could be a boon for family life

By Alice Johnsen.

CAMILLA Tominey, a journalist you can take seriously, wrote recently about the week she took mobile phones away from her two older children. I know – brave. Interestingly, the children enjoyed it as much as the parents.
They had access to their friends through an old-style mobile, so all was not completely lost but aspects of life that came back to them included what used to be considered simple pleasures. Watching a film together – the same film on the same screen at the same time. Talking round the table long after supper had finished. Playing with siblings too young for phones. Getting homework done quickly without distractions. Sleeping well.
Her 14-year-old daughter felt much more productive and realised how time-wasting touch screen devices had become, while her son, 12, concluded the week-long experiment was much easier than he had expected and, crucially, he felt less stressed without social media.

And there it is. The nugget we all need to pay attention to. Out of the mouths of not-quite babes is a clearly flagged up admission. We can and must all take steps away from our phones.
To aim to live without such technical tools in our lives now would be, for most of us, foolhardy. So, let’s keep it realistic. If this article showed me anything, it was the value of being more aware of our own use as well as of those habits being cultivated by our secondary school angels. Do we have clear enough, maintainable boundaries for our own phone use that will set sensible and practical examples. I have always had a loathing – and in this house, ban – of phones at the table. There used to be a rule here of no screens upstairs, but I’ll be honest, that needs reinforcing. It’s so easy for sneaky habits to, well, sneak in, hiding in plain sight.
But what about Ms Tominey’s good suggestion of never having phones to hand when watching a film. Double screening and never following a plot properly – sounding familiar?
One I want to add to the suggestion pile – walking around outside without your phone. In black and white that looks a bit dotty but ask yourself, when was the last time you left your home to go for a walk without your phone? It could be a small change worth making.

Alice Johnsen is a life coach based near Sherborne. Phone: 07961 080513; visit

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