It amazes me how our human behaviour can vary so dramatically under different circumstances or through different strains and stresses. For me, there is a marked difference for instance, as for most people, between holiday time and a normal working week.

Unfortunately, the marker for me is evidenced in how much I am on my phone…. Once school is back in session, the email traffic builds up, and I find myself compulsively checking my phone to stay on top of correspondence. Unfortunately, this sometimes spills into time when I am at home, to the detriment of the contact time that I have with Georgie and my three little boys. Indeed the wider problem of overuse of mobile phones by parents was highlighted to me this week in a BBC article which reflected on a survey of 2000 teenagers conducted by Digital Awareness UK.

In the survey, more than a third of students said they had asked their parents to stop checking their devices. 14% said their parents were online at meal times, although a separate poll of parents saw 95% of them deny it.

Some other facts from the article included statistics from the pupils including that:
• 82% felt meal times should be device-free
• 22% said the use of mobiles stopped their families enjoying each other’s company
• 36% had asked their parents to put down their phones.

Of pupils who had asked their parents to put down their phones, 46% said their parents took no notice, while 44% felt upset and ignored.

Despite this, only a minority of parents (10%) believed their mobile use was a concern for their children – although almost half (43%) felt they spent too much of their own time online:
• 37% said they were online between three and five hours a day at weekends
• 5% said it could be up to 15 hours a day over a weekend.

While we accept the advances of technology, this news struck me as a stark warning. It is increasingly important that we audit not only our children’s but also our own use of devices, and more importantly, I encourage you to retain and fiercely defend our most important face-to-face time which we will never get back; that which we have as families. I know I am going to.

Duncan Sinclair
Headmaster TPS