by Trevor Jackson
“As soon as I gave my daughters their phones, I lost them. They disappeared into their rooms and came back 5 years later”…This was the warning our ship’s engineer had for me when the inevitable came. “Dad, can I get a phone?”. In our household we held off for as long as we could, yet at just 13, our eldest is now fully connected to the world. Each morning when I drive her to school we go past several school bus stops…..It doesn’t seem to matter who’s at those bus stops or what school they are heading to, or if they are boys or girls…all those kids are doing exactly the same thing…Staring at phones….and not just some of them, ALL of them, without exception. Nobody is talking face to face to anybody! The most common thing I hear when I have a winge about this modern affliction is, ‘Well these are the times we live in and that’s what kids do nowadays, you wouldn’t want them to be left out would you?”. Usually this is enough to have me slinking back in behind my desk to check out my likes…but are we just copping out as parents by using that excuse?
Frankly, I don’t want to lose my eldest to 5 years of self-inflicted isolation. For that matter I’m not keen on losing any of the younger ones to that when the time comes. Sure, a smartphone might connect you to your friends, or to TIK TOK, or Twitter, or whatever social media is the flavour of the day,…but we are most assuredly disconnecting them from the world. The real one that is. The one with hot and cold, light and dark, wet and dry, pain and joy. On a phone, you can only simulate that stuff. To get it for real you need to get real. Trouble is, if you try and get them away from the cyber world, by going camping or bushwalking or fishing, the sneaky little cherubs will outsmart you. Out there in the bush, under the milky way, they’re under their blankets, hiding the fact that they’ve got phone range. The tell-tale glow from beneath the covers, will let you know it’s been folly.
There is however, one solution. One sure-fire way to inch your way back. You’ve got to get out of range, proper good. Lament no more mums and dads, there is a way! Get out here, with us, on Spoilsport. Out here there is NO RANGE. Out here there’s only real people, a real ocean, the real world. Out here you can reconnect. Not by phone, face to face. Reclaim the small joys in life. See the delight on the kids’ faces when they’re face to face with creatures of the deep. Turtles, Stingrays, Giant Clams. It’s all there in the shallows. All they need is a mask, a snorkel and a sense of adventure. Dropkick the Nokia and kickstart the ‘oohs and aahs’. All you’ve got to do is take that first step and [the irony is stunning] pick up the phone.
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