Sunday, May 31, 2020

The new normal


I was at a brunch last Friday. It was more of a family brunch, not your usual adult mayhem, so there were quite a number of children present.

How do you keep children seated and quiet during these public outings? You let them play on their phones. In most cases their own phones not mummy or daddy’s given to them for a few moments.

However, if it is an adult’s phone I bet you that mummy’s has more child friendly games installed than daddy’s.

When I was a child we used to play with a bat and ball or just a ball, or we played hide and seek or tag which needed no additional equipment because we played with other children and interacted.

Our parents had no idea where we were, but we knew we had to be home in time for dinner. This has all been said before especially by us from the generation that keeps telling anyone who will listen that they were “the good old days”.

A smartphone is a truly remarkable piece of technology. It is a handheld computer connected to all of the world’s knowledge. It is a device that can tell you the time, temperature, direction, your heartbeat and how to get to anywhere else.

It is a device of which we have not yet reached the limit of its uses, and you can also use it to make phone calls – although now there are video calls from anywhere on the planet.

We probably have more face to face conversations with our son now that he is at school in the UK than we did when he was in the same house.

The smartphone did not just appear, though the build-up to it started when the Internet was born. Before that we did have cellular phones which were far too expensive to give to children. We started by giving them computers.

I remember setting up computers in my first two children’s rooms connected to the Internet when they were 12 and 10. They could use them to look up school work. They could use Word, Excel, Publisher and other tools.

My eldest took to using Word so much that she is now a professional writer, and they could also use them for games which were not so much online as downloaded, but they could only use them in their rooms. They could not take them out to play with, so that when they did go out they still had to interact with their peers.

When the first smartphones and tablets did become available they were again far too expensive to give to children, but the developers soon started creating games for them as they spotted that mum or dad would find it useful to plonk the child in the corner with one.

And then it was only a matter of time before they became cheap enough and the data package became cheap enough to buy them one for their third birthday.

I guess younger parents see this as a normal part of child-rearing and don’t have any problems with it especially in these more paranoid times they know exactly where their child is at all times. When they are out it is also a tracking device. Modern children may not be out in the street playing with the kids next door but they are interacting with ones all over the planet.

I have not noticed a bigger percentage of children becoming mass axe murderers, when they grow up. So I guess it is working, it is the new status quo. Nothing wrong with that. They were a great band.