Mark Ellis has done the unthinkable, and he’s written a book about it. With four kids under fifteen, his home was a veritable hive of internet activity, but there came a point for Mark when enough was enough.

He joined Kathryn Thomas on The Ray D’Arcy Show to talk about the experience of turning off that phone and about his book Digitox: How To Find A Healthy Balance For Your Family’s Digital Diet.

Does your family need a break from screens?

No doubt parents across the country will be asking how his unplugged progeny took to their new way of life.

"Lots and lots of tantrums and shouting, and they went off in a huff and they shot each other with Nerf darts instead of shooting at me. That was the initial response, it wasn’t entirely positive at that point. "

"We’re not one 100% draconian," says Mark. His household employs the rule of three. If three members of the family want to use the internet to stream a movie, for example, that’s allowed under the new regime.

"We’re just trying to get away from the isolationist it’s-all-about-me behaviour."

Kids using ipads
Mark employs the rule of three for screen time

With the summer months upon us and with children unfettered from the commitments of school and homework, how would one undertake such a detox without causing total and utter uproar on an unprecedented scale? The trick, says Mark, is to walk your talk.

"Here’s the shocker. The thing is not to start with the children…  We know people who have tried to do this with their children and have not done it themselves and kids see straight through that.  What I always say to people, as an adult… stop using the phone at say 7 o’clock at night, just put it away…"

"Just pay attention to all the things you want to do with the internet that you can’t, and none of them will be really important, and then introduce that to the rest of the family, just the evenings."

Kids will follow the example of adults

We all know there are great benefits to be derived from switching off when trying to sleep, but the consequences of not doing so might be more detrimental than you’d think.

"Troops coming back from the battlefield, they suffer a lot with post-traumatic stress disorder and they also have something called hypervigilance, that’s because they never know what’s going to happen next…"

"For us, our subconscious won’t let us drift off to sleep because we’re just waiting for that next text alert, you name it to come through and the reaction in the brain is exactly the same as these poor guys coming back from the battlefield, unless you take the phone out of the bedroom, you never really go to sleep properly."

"Especially for children, who are far more susceptible to this. Their school work improves because they’re getting more quality sleep."

Listen above for the full interview on The Ray D’Arcy Show.