Nathan Bryon – author of children’s book Look Up! – is on a mission to use his phone less and live in the moment. Here are his top reasons why children should put down their phones.
It can make you seem unsocial
The inspiration for the story of Look Up! came from a time when I met my girlfriend in Hyde Park, and she wanted to show me something. We were walking through the park and she was taking in everything around us – my girlfriend is really good at ignoring her phone – whereas I’m on my phone, responding to emails, trying to avoid spelling mistakes and grunting in reply whenever she spoke to me. She was taking me to the Peter Pan statue in Hyde Park which neither of us had seen before. We get to the statue and I’m still looking down at my phone. Frustrated, my girlfriend tells me to look up at the statue. I do – and I take it in! It’s really cool! I’ve walked this path in Hyde Park loads of times, but have never seen it before. It made me think: what else have I missed?
You won’t miss out on what’s happening in the world around you
I love seeing things I have never seen before, but sometimes I get way too caught up in the hustle and bustle of living fast – and I forget to look up. I have even walked into a lamppost because I was staring at my phone. The character Jamal in my book is literally me (although I think I’m a little less grumpy!) The book serves as a reminder to me – and to us all hopefully – that we need to be more present.
Especially in an age where screens are being put in front of people at a younger and younger age – which in some instances can be great, for education and entertainment. But I think it’s really important to remind everyone to put the screens down, give your eyes a break and just go outside.
You’ll feel calmer
I’ve lived in London my whole life. And I love it. But I’m constantly rushing around town to meetings or jumping on the tube during rush hour to get home. The city lives in the now which is exciting, but it’s also tiring trying to keep up.
This summer, I have been trying to use my phone less and less when I’m out and about. I recently came back from a little getaway in Amsterdam and I didn’t want to check my phone (like I always do) but I also didn’t want to just leave my phone in my hotel room. So, the middle ground was to put it in my girlfriend’s handbag right at the bottom – and my girlfriend has a big handbag so getting my phone out quickly is not possible. But this meant I could look around properly and take in all the sights in Amsterdam instead of just scrolling on my phone (like I usually do) for no reason.
You can try new things
‘But what about if I want to take photos of where I am?’ I can hear you scream as you read this article. Well, a great way to stay off your phone and still get really cool photos is to buy a disposable camera or polaroid. And the filters on those cameras are so much better than Instagram.
Most of these things are quite obvious – and I am still trying to get better at being as present as I can be myself. Kids are naturally brilliant at being present and playing in the now. It’s only when a screen is put in front of them that they stop and watch.
If you’re like me, try to find different ways to keep off your phones this summer. Why not go for a long walk, read a book or enjoy a picnic on a warm day. Or invest in a telescope and go stargazing like the character Rocket in my book. Anything that will keep you looking up! Because, at the end of the day, our phones are really not that interesting.