Life passing by while on a mobile device

I have felt for many years that we are all guilty of letting life pass by while we communicate with no one.

When I was a child people were concerned that too much time in front of the telly was bad for our health, ‘you’ll get square eyes,’ was the cry!

Now we face a new challenge, mobile devices, the smart phone, our ability to be always connected. It’s worse than just the time lost or the risk of not valuing our time effectively. It’s the damage to us as humans. I’m not saying people were right to warn of, square eyes, I’m commenting on the damage to society.

This leap in our ability to easily communicate is harmful to the human art of communication.

The dramatic growth of mobile screens in just the last few years is rapidly changing society. I find myself noticing the detrimental effect more and more. Many teachers report school children struggling with basic language skills. Parents using an iPad to baby sit a child. I’m commenting on a greater effect, one where relationships are changing.

We had gone out for lunch as a family just a few days ago. While waiting for our table we had a drink at the bar. Sat at another table were two young couples in their thirties. All were looking at their mobile phones, not glancing at them but interacting for several minutes. They were drinking and moving their fingers and browsing their mobile sites. Probably updating their status on sites like Facebook, letting their supposed friends know they were out having a great time with their real friends.

At another table I noticed a young mother deep into her phone screen, while her young daughter, no more than two, still in nappies was playing on a tablet. Shortly the mother looked up momentarily, to acknowledge her partner returning with drinks from the bar. He spoke to his daughter for a second and then got his phone out and all three commenced looking at their individual screens.

After a few minutes, we moved to our table. We ordered our food, ate our starters and finished our main meals. The young couple with the toddler remained in sight.

They only came off their devices ready to leave, as we waited for our deserts. This was at least forty minutes later. There had been little communication with the young child.

A child at the very peak of its ability to learn. The important formative years, when learning key skills, like how to read body language and interpret facial expressions all this crucial early learning comes from our first relationship with other people often mostly from the nurture of our parents. Just as fundamental it is the time to learn to speak and then to broaden ones vocabulary.

I wonder the dramatic effect this may have on the life chances, the happiness of that child and its reflection on the change we are seeing in society in general.

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