Confessions of a screen surfer…

DO children spend too long in front of their phones, laptops and TVs? Go consult a parent with one to hand. Ask me and all you’ll get is a shamefaced mumble.
Yes, surely it’s a worry. Hours hunched over the laptop, squinting at the smart phone and watching TV – sometimes simultaneously. Such behaviour is clearly harmful . And I really must try to stop doing it.
So it is easy to sympathise with today’s headlines about parents finding it easier “to get their children to do homework, go to bed or have a bath than turn off their phones, laptops and TVs”. As I discovered while peering the BBC website on at my smartphone.
A survey for the charity Action for Children finds that almost one in four parents struggle to control their children’s screen use. Shocking – except that, as is the way with surveys, the negative finding has been given the greater prominence.
Looked at another way this survey reveals 77 per cent of mothers and fathers don’t have a problem controlling their offspring’s screen use – either that or they’ve given up arguing about it.
When our three were young we had battles over the family computer, limiting the game-mad boys to an hour apiece each night. This rare parental edict did lead to sulking.
The games never appealed to me. The only time our peaceable eldest son ever lost it with me was when he had a new Star Wars game and I couldn’t work out how to jump across a ravine or something. Now I stay away from computer games. But not from computers.
My screen surfing replicates what our daughter used to call revising for her A-levels, sitting on the sofa with phone, laptop and nonsense on the TV. Of course I hardly ever watch nonsense on TV, although Netflix could be the undoing of any remaining shreds of high-mindedness. Too much to watch on there.
Anyway you can stumble across much of passing interest or pleasing idiocy looking at screens. Here are five things Man On Ledge discovered since last night on his smartphone:
ONE: Multi-millionaire prime minister David Cameron is worried his children won’t be able to afford a home when they grow up. Clearly we should start a charitable appeal immediately. Perhaps it could be called Marbles Aid as Mr Cameron seems to have lost a few judging by his astonishingly out-of-touch remark. Or maybe we could instead go for Save the Bullingdon Bollocks.
TWO: Don’t be offended by the sentence above. Prince William used a variant of that sturdy old English word while being interviewed on ITV by Ant and Dec. Did I actually watch the programme? Great heavens no. I do have some self-respect, you know.
THREE: President Barack Obama cried when laying down the law on gun control. The tracks of the presidential tears are displayed on the front of many of today’s newspapers, but they first were shed on my smartphone. What does this teach us? That Americans are deeply messed up about firearms. Show an innocently slaughtered child to a member of the gun rights lobby, and they will say you have to be armed to take on the “bad guys” – not realising they are the bad guys. The idiot idealist lurking in my soul wonders why they don’t just ban all guns.
FOUR: The wheel nearly fell off Nigel Farage’s Volvo V70. How I chuckled at that. Then I remembered the make of our car.
FIVE: David Cameron’s decision to allow government ministers to campaign for our exit from Europe is a victory for democracy. Or the complete opposite of what he said he’d do a year ago. It’s a sign of a strong leader. Or a sign of a weak leader. It means we are definitely leaving Europe. Or much more likely to stay. In short, nothing learned on that score.
Is all this phone-glancing, texting and screen worrying making us rude or is it the new normal? Oh I need to check Facebook. And Twitter. Not forgetting those two email accounts. Sorry my phone’s just pinged…

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