Last week the BBC reported on how parents struggle to get children off digital devices.
Carol Iddon Managing Director of Operations at Action for Children said: “technology is often a necessary part of the lives of children and parents alike, but it’s important to maintain a balance with other activities and quality family time”.
Now while this article points out that parents are struggling to get their kids to turn off their phones, laptops and tellies, I must confess that I believe that the majority of parents and adults alike are just as bad.
In a time when we have a new medical condition called ‘Phantom vibration’, that’s right, people now imagine their phones are going off just so they have an excuse to check it, or Nomophobia the fear and anxiety of having left your phone (or entire reason for living) at home.
We have become inextricably interlinked to our phones to the point that it looks as if we are never really off them, which I feel has to be to the detriment of our personal and professional relationships. We must be mindful as adults or as parents that we make a clear distinction between our phones and ourselves, or the detachment between engaging with anything other than a gadget will only get wider.
I know that to some of you reading this I may sound a little out of touch or even old fashioned.
Well, whilst I did grow up in a world where if you didn’t know something you’d have to go to a library or ask your Dad, I too love my technology, with all it’s applications and very often have to reel myself in when I can sense getting lost in the seduction of a blue screen and everything it has to offer.
Only a few weeks when I took my family to see The Musical Cats on New Years Eve 2015 I was alerted to the power of the phone.
Right at the very end of the show, there was a technical hiccup, which brought the show to a halt. An announcement was made to inform all those in attendance that the backstage crew were working to put right this literal ‘Set’ back.
The reason I am telling you this has nothing to do with the hilarious sight of two adults dressed as moggies, left dangling in the air on giant juddering tyre thinking they were about to lose one of their nine lives. It was what happened next that left me slightly gobsmacked.
The safety curtain was lowered and then the entire place lit up. Not because the house lights were switched on but because 90% of the auditorium immediately started faffing on their phones. The majority of these ‘Mobile’ offenders were adults.
They were not as you may think attempting to record the CATtastrophe (sorry) that had taken place on stage but had reached for their phones as a seemingly knee jerk, automatic reaction to killing time.
It would appear to me and it consistently does that we are all becoming worryingly dependent on our hand held devices to fill every moment of up and down time.
There were dads on candy crush, mums on face book, kids taking selfies and very few, if any engaging with the family members they had chosen to come out with on an outing to the theatre. It seems the struggle with keeping off devices is not just with children.
As a father of two daughters growing up in a world of tech and instant gratification I am clear of the challenges as well as positives technology poses. I am also very clear on when technology is not appropriate.
For instance never at the dinner table or when we have visitors or at the cinema or out at the theatre.
Too many times I have seen parents use gadgets as some sort of technological dummy to pacify their kids because it’s easier than engaging with them.
If we as adults cannot lead the younger generations by example and educate them to use technology safely, appropriately and timely then my fear, very much like Grizzabella, the Glamour Cat at the end of the Musical, is that we may find ourselves alone, confused and wondering where it all went wrong.
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