Opinion by Mark – Curb the constant addiction to mobile devices

How many of you reading this have watched a baby pacified by playing with its mother’s smartphone? How many of you have witnessed a person carelessly strolling down the street whilst gawping at their device totally oblivious to others forced to take evasive action? How many of us have nearly been involved in a road accident where a driver is wandering across lanes chatting, texting, or even watching a short film on their mobile phone? My bet is quite a few; I won’t ask how many have done any of these (by the way 56% of US parents have confessed to checking their mobile phone devices whilst driving with their children in their car) but I am sure you haven’t.

Now, I for one cannot wait for the day when I can throw my phone in the bin but perhaps this is because I am a grumpy, insular, anti-social old misery, but do I accept that for better or worse, the ‘mobile’ has become a ‘necessity’ of the modern day work culture where, apparently, everyone must be available 24/7 to answer calls, texts and emails.

Fortunately, though, the younger generation have not yet entered the world of work, and therefore, technically, the smartphone is not a necessity. I feel that parental guidance on smartphone use is essential. However, I’m sure most teenagers would disagree with me in a heartbeat. Certainly at Durham, a British curriculum school in Dubai, the ‘no mobile phone in school policy’ is not the most popular rule amongst our pupils but I believe strongly that it is an important one and one which the majority of our parents fully support.

In an ideal world it’s all about balancing screen time and outdoor activities. I would like to see the young allowed to be just that, young, and free to enjoy their childhood by being outdoors, building dens, participating in sport, learning a musical instrument, painting and drawing or even, heaven forbid, reading a book. Sadly, though this is not the case and the modern preference, the easy option, is screentime – phone, iPad, PlayStation. Technology, and particularly the smartphone, have become an absolute necessity for our young and this is something that greatly concerns me. Actually, this more than concerns me, I believe smartphones have become an unhealthy, antisocial habit.

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