A handout photo of David Gandy, who is promoting Vodafone’s smart kids watch, Neo.
A handout photo of David Gandy, who is promoting Vodafone’s smart kids watch, Neo.

David Gandy on the highs and lows of parenting in a connected world

The supermodel talks to Prudence Wade about fatherhood, technology and his love of CBeebies show Hey Duggee.

Prudence Wade
Wednesday 24 February 2021 07:15

As one of the world’s leading supermodels you might expect to hear David Gandy talking about glamorous photoshoots or fashion shows – not Peppa Pig.

However, as father to two-year-old Matilda Gandy is as familiar with Peppa Pig as he is Dolce & Gabbana. And as a relatively new parent, the 40-year-old is still working things out.

“I’m the same as any parent – I’m learning, things are adapting so quickly,” says Gandy, who shares Matilda with partner Stephanie Mendoros.

“I don’t think I’m one to give advice – of course, if you want to give me advice, I’m all ears!” he adds with a laugh.

Having Matilda changed Gandy’s approach to work. “I was used to travelling like a mad person – 95 flights a year, or something in that realm,” he admits. “So when Matilda was born, I made sure I was around. It’s only myself and my partner Steph, we don’t have particularly close family. So I made sure I was around – and wanted to be around.

“Of course then, with the pandemic, that changed even further. Lots of terrible situations have come in the pandemic; one of them not being that people are spending more time with their families. I’ve got to see my daughter grow up over the last year.”

When comparing his childhood with Matilda’s, Gandy says: “They’re chalk and cheese. I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was probably 15… We didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have Google, we didn’t have anything. So the things that we take for granted now – I don’t even know how we found information… I suppose libraries?”

Now, many children are connected from a young age. Gandy sees the benefits of this, saying: “Digital is brilliant for parents – it’s incredible for education, and we’re seeing that at the moment. Imagine if we had the pandemic when schools didn’t have online learning. So from that point of view, it’s incredible.”

He also thinks there’s great scope for cultivating a child’s creativity, adding: “These digital areas allow children to create, but they’re also learning at the same time.

“It’s the same with adults, if you look at how to learn a different language; there are so many apps now, and you can learn in a way you don’t quite realise you’re learning. So, there’s a sense of fun.”

From a parental point of view, Gandy is relieved at the prospect of Matilda not accidentally painting his kitchen table – as children “can create without the mess and fuss, and everything that goes along with that”, he says.

David Gandy on the front row

However, Gandy is keenly aware of the pitfalls of tech. “There is a darker side to the internet,” he says. “You can pretty much be anyone, people can have fake names and fake accounts, and your children don’t know who they’re talking to.”

Again, he compares this to his childhood, and with something like bullying at school, noting how “children go home and they can’t even get away from it”, he says.

That’s why Gandy wanted to be the face of Neo, the new Vodafone smart watch for kids. “It’s early entry digitalisation for children,” he says. “It provides a safe environment for them,” with safety features controlled by parents.

Luckily, he doesn’t feel too concerned about Matilda discovering the darker side of the internet just yet. “The only thing I’ve had to worry about is her not watching too much Peppa Pig or Hey Duggee,” he says. Although, this is sometimes easier said than done, as Gandy admits: “I seem to have got into Hey Duggee as well…”

David Gandy has collaborated with Vodafone to launch Neo, the smart kids’ watch, the latest product in the Designed & Connected by Vodafone range. Visit eshop.v.vodafone.com