A break from the tweets and texts

COMMENT: People need to have viable alternative to driving

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Have you noticed that wherever you go now, you see people looking down in the direction of a hand clutching their mobile phone?

I was having lunch in a restaurant recently and glanced across to the table next to me where a couple, instead of being deep in conversation while enjoying the tasty food in front of them, were both each tapping away in silence on their mobile phones.

Not too long ago when driving, I had to hit my brakes pretty sharpish when a man decided tweeting or texting was more important than looking out for cars when crossing the road.

Next time you walk or drive past a bus stop, take a look at what the people are doing while waiting for their transport to arrive.

They won’t be looking in the direction of the oncoming traffic. Instead they’ll be looking down at their mobile phones.

I wonder how many buses have been missed because of this? The thing is, I’m guilty of checking my phone more than I should and if I was waiting for that bus, I’d probably be scrolling down my Twitter timeline or checking my e-mails to pass the time until I glanced up and saw my bus approaching.

I hate to say it, but once I’d paid my fare and found a spare seat on that bus, I’d probably get my phone back out of my pocket and continue what I was doing on it until I reached my destination.

I was recently chatting to a friend about this very subject. He has two children and has now banned mobile phones during family time.

He said that on a Sunday, when they would all sit down to watch a film together, 20 minutes in he would look over and realise he was the only one engrossed in the storyline as his children had lost interest and were instead tapping away on their mobile phones.

So now, before a film starts, all mobile phones are turned off and put out of the room, taking away the distraction.

The same rule applies before the family sit down at the dinner table. My daughters are aged just two and four, so obviously do not have their own phones, but I do allow them to play some educational games on mine for a limited time.

But right now, they don’t know what Facebook or Twitter is and I hope it’s a long time before they do. But I know at some point, as their friends are introduced to modern technology and social media, they will want to be.

When that time comes, some new rules will have to be introduced and of course daddy will have to lead by example.

To get a head start, I’ll begin now and might from time to time press that button on my phone that never gets used – the off button.