Louis CK explains why he ditched the internet for the benefit of his kids
If anyone can get away with phone-shaming parents, it’s Louis CK. The hilarious comedian and father of two young girls is known for his no-bullshit approach to just about everything. His thoughts on parenting are no exception, and in a recent talk show appearance, the funny man let loose with his feelings on parenting and “devices.” Aka, why we parents should maybe put down our phones sometimes.
Louis tells Conan O’Brien that he’s decided he doesn’t want to be on the internet anymore. “I don’t like the way it feels anymore. Especially in my hand, the devices, I don’t like this thing, I stare into this thing, and it just makes me feel upset. And I look at things that I know are gonna upset me. I guess I just like the hit from going, UGH!” Check out the video here.
He describes looking up unsavory things he knows he doesn’t want to see and kind of reveling in the shock and awe. Which is really what a lot of us do with our time on the internet, especially with Facebook and Instagram. We look at posts that annoy us from people we hardly even like, yet, we can’t tear ourselves away.
But Louis says it was more than just looking at stupid and useless shit on the internet that made him have this epiphany.
“I have kids, two daughters, and sometimes I’ll be with my daughter and she’s talking to me and we’re talking and my phone goes BLING.” He demonstrates how he instantly glances down at his phone to check the email that BLING signifis and says his kids are “nice people” and just wait until he’s done. He explains that it’s not a good idea to go by how a person reacts to you. As in, just because his kid doesn’t openly chastise him for his phone habits, doesn’t make them ok. Louis describes how his daughter “dies inside” when they’re talking and he leaves their conversation to zone out on his phone.
And as hard as it is to hear, his criticism of himself is pretty valid. In fact, he sounds a little bit like me when I’m checking messages for work or answering a friend’s “urgent” text.
Usually I’m the first person to defend parents “staring at their phones” because, come on. I’d like to think most of us know when to set the phone down and pay attention to our kids, but the reality could be that our kids have become so used to us glancing down at an email while they’re talking that they don’t give us the reaction our behavior might occasionally deserve. If we find ourselves cutting off our kids mid-sentence to look at our phones, maybe we should reexamine our relationship with technology. No need to give it up entirely, unless you think that’s what it would take.
Louis tells O’Brien that he did cut himself off from the internet entirely, giving his daughter control of his devices. He had her install a passcode on his internet browsers so he would be locked out of them, giving him time to read and pursue other activities besides staring at his phone. It sounds like he’s refreshed from his internet-free life and though it sounds extreme, some of us could probably use a similar break. He wraps up the segment jokingly telling parents to “stop looking at the stupid internet,” but he truly might be onto something.
Never feel judged for playing on your phone around your kids, but listen to that voice in your head when you think you’ve possibly gone too far. Taking a break or tempering your phone use won’t hurt and like Louis, you might discover that you’re a lot happier without it.