By Aliki Kraterou
A group of dads have banded together to hold 10 mile phoneless walks for their teen kids – in a bid to stop internet addiction.
Dad-of-four Adalt Hussain, 46, started the ‘Brookhouse Walk For Life’ in 2017, when he realised how much time his children were spending online and how it was affecting their mental health.
Now, every weekend a group of 25 children and their parents lock their phones away before walking up to 10 miles near their hometown of Blackburn, Lancashire, while discussing issues such as drugs, suicide, the environment and relationships.
Businessman Adalt first started walking for his own health 10 years ago after he was diagnosed with diabetes and told to exercise more.
The dad to Aisha, 13, Mohammed, 12, Halima, 11 and Ali Hamza, eight, said: “When I first started walking a decade ago, during my hikes I met a lot of people and spoke to them.
“I realised we all had the same concerns – the biggest problem being no one was talking.
“That’s when I came up with the idea. I have four kids and I could see how technology was affecting them.
“It is designed to make tasks easier but it has always been addictive.
“It has good and bad sides, but when I read a statistic that 40 per cent of toddlers aged three to five owned a tablet I felt like hitting my head against a wall.
“I don’t blame technology, I blame us – the parents.
“In my opinion, the younger generation has been deeply affected by phones – their communication skills are bad.
“Two kids can be texting all day, but if you put them together they can’t talk to each other.
“There are so many issues caused by social media, obesity, anxiety, lack of empathy and it’s only going to get worse – it’s a mental addiction.”
Adalt was determined to do his part to fight internet addiction and gather as many people as possible, he had already set up the group when he approached his good friend Naseem Khan, 39, to help him in spreading the word and raising awareness.
Now they hold walks every weekend for Blackburn residents, with up to 35 members taking part.
The pair said parents in the area love the idea and teens seem to be happy to be able to talk about the important issues in their lives – without their phones in hand.
Dad of three, Naseem, a customer advisor and artist, said: “When Adalt suggested it, I thought it was 100 per cent a good idea.
“It’s a good way for families to bond, getting out and about means your senses come to life, it’s all natural.”
Adalt added: “It’s not only for the children – we’ve seen times something bad happens, and people choose to record it on their phones instead of helping.
“It feels like we have lost our empathy, and that’s what we’re trying to bring back.
“We want to make walking ‘cool’ again and teach everyone not to take the car everywhere, for physical and environmental reasons.
“Our ‘walk ‘n’ talk’ has a lot of impact – you talk, you walk, you smile, you take in fresh air.
“We do this for our children, the future of this country.”
For more information go to: https://bhwfl.org/