Over the last year or so I have became more and more aware of as issue in relation to new reports and articles focusing on issues which schools need to address. The issue in question is the narrow framing of issues as being education or youth related issues. This implies that the issue is either confined to schools or confined to the young, when in fact the issue in hand is often observable in wider society.
Another recent example came from The Times (Read the full article here) towards the end of January which reported that one third of children check their phone every few minutes. This seems to suggest a youth related issue and begs the question: what can we do to address children’s use of smartphones?
An article from the BBC from September 2016 (Read the full article here), some 4 months early, suggests that one third of adults admit to having arguments with their partners due to overuse of smart phones. Considering the two reports it would appear that they both reported the same issue, perceived over use of smart phones, but focussed on two different age ranges. Taken together the two reports suggest the issue is prevalent across all ages and therefore could be considered an issue of current society at large. The question now at hand is therefore how can we address the issue of smartphone use within our current society?
Sat writing this as my wife flicks through the TV and on-demand programme lists I can’t help but think that this relates to the always on and on-demand nature of communications. I no longer have to sit down at a particular time on a particular date to watch a TV programme. I can watch it as and when I want. I no longer have to wait until after 6pm to contact friends, waiting for them to finish work and arrive home. I can now just send them a Facebook message or Whatsapp message at any time of day, which they can access and reply to independent of if they are working, travelling, etc. Having lived outside of the UK for a period this technology allows me to contact my friends and ex-colleagues who now lives all over the world in different time zones. So their messages may be sent in mid-afternoon but arrive with me in the early hours.
I think the hyper connectedness of current society is inevitable given the technology and the opportunities it has opened up. The key is in making all people, including children, mindful of it. And on that note I will put my laptop down and join my wife in the social activity of watching Saturday evening TV.