THINK ABOUT IT: What is your child learning from how much time you spend on your phone?
THINK ABOUT IT: What is your child learning from how much time you spend on your phone? monkeybusinessimages

OPINION: Time for parents to put down phones for kids

I'M slapping on the war paint and rallying the troops - today is the day I declare war on the mobile phone.

Who's with me?

I can't be the only one who thinks mobile phones are one of the greatest threats to the parent-child relationship.

People of almost every age have become so reluctant to go anywhere without their precious phones and we react to every ding, ting or ring signalling a new message, Facebook post or email.

Sometimes it is important news. I get it, I really do. But I also remember a time when we survived with a phone that was stuck on the wall. And it wasn't that bad.

It doesn't matter where you go these days, everyone has their head bent over a screen, missing out on the good stuff happening right in front of them.

That's fine for most people but if you are a parent rocking the baby bouncer there's more at stake than you might realise.

Children learn a lot from what they see and the lessons start long before they can walk and talk.

It bothers me when I watch my grandkids reaching for the noisy toy in Dad's hand or stretching out to grab for the shiny magic toy that makes Mum smile when she looks at it.

They are destined to grow up in a world dominated by phones and whatever clever devices come next.

What really concerns me is they will think it is normal to be constantly disconnected from the moment or the person they are with.

Soon enough I'll be begging them to put their devices down and talk to their boring old nana.

So I'm taking a stand - for their sake and my own.

As of today our lounge and family rooms will be phone-free zones.

The rules are simple: All phones have to be put into a basket at the doorway and if you need to use it you have to leave the room.

My hope is at least in this space the babies will not have to vie for our attention.

I believe they need to see us watching them looking at us. There's something special about eye contact with a baby - you can see them soaking up everything about you, imitating the sounds you make and the smile you give them.

No text, phone call, Facebook post or game is better than that.

I'm sure my new rules will be met with resistance, outrage even, but I'm a nana on a mission and it's my house so I set the rules.

I'm not suggesting parents should never use their phone in front of the kids but we also need to let them know phones don't always take priority over them.

I even have a theme song for my battle, and I would play it on my phone every time I saw my kids on their phones if it wasn't breaking my own rule.

Cat's in the Cradle by Harry Chapin was written long before mobile phones were a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye but it resonates with the fears I have for the modern parent-child relationship.

If you haven't heard it take a listen. It might be old but there's a lesson in there for all of us as we rush through life, focussing on a lot of things that don't really matter.