The Phone can be a Cruel Mistress (misquoted from Nessa in Gavin and Stacey)
An ongoing dilemma
Like many people, I struggle with an ongoing dilemma about the pros and cons of social media and particularly our accessing it on our mobile phones.
And since our world has been turned upside down by the current crisis, both the pros and the cons have been made more apparent.
I’ve had more really good laughs sharing in all the hilarious video clips, images and memes than I’ve for ages. The laughter has acted as a release valve and in doing so, has provided a very welcome break from the seriousness of the situation.
It has reinforced my belief that in an attempt to deal with a terrible situation, the human species is amazing in its capacity to make light of it. But it has been preceded and followed by the undercurrent of worry, incredulity and fear that the virus has created.
A mixed blessing
Ironically the same devices that bring us the humour bring, virtually simultaneously, fear and anxiety. Even during normal times many of us are addicted to our phone, but now we panic if we don’t have it with us at all times in case we miss the constant stream of information and news.
Our phones are not just bringing us necessary and relevant information-they’re helping us to cope with the strange and uncertain new world in which we find ourselves. Apart from the positive and funny Shares, we are searching for reassurance in the form of articles about maintaining our mental health which for all of us can be a challenge, but for some can be impossible.
We’re also looking for suggestions about what we can do to keep physically fit during our enforced and thankfully temporary imprisonment. Many wonderful people have stepped up to the mark and created impromptu fitness videos for whole families to enjoy together. There’s advice on what you can cook without pasta or chopped tomotoes! There are suggestions about how to keep yourself and your children educated and entertained. Evidence of the fortitude, generosity and resilience of the human spirit is everywhere-and it’s wonderful to see.
How much worse it would be if we didn’t have access to all of this-and if we couldn’t stay in frequent contact with our friends and families, near and far. Many, particularly those living on their own, would otherwise be feeling even more isolated – and terribly lonely.
So at the moment, our phones are a lifeline as they give us a sense of community and an opportunity to share our experiences during this global crisis.
there is a significant downside. Over the last few years there have been numerous articles and studies looking at the problems caused by Distracted Parenting-yes it’s actually a Thing!
And The Independent newspaper recently published an interesting article. Entitled Are phones affecting our relationship with our children? it looked at this worrying and growing problem. The answer is a resounding YES.
We are using our phones with increasing frequency as it is, but whilst the Coronavirus dominates our thought and actions, this habit has accelerated into its own epidemic. And here’s another irony: as we constantly and increasingly concentrate on our little screens, experiencing a mixture of reassurance, fear, shared humour, anxiety and reactions to the constantly evolving information, our precious children are missing out on our attention. At the very time that they need us most.
A sobering article in the Telegraph discusses a study which examines the issue of parents’ excessive use of a mobile phone being linked to children’s behaviour. Surely our children deserve more, not less of us at a time when they are no doubt feeling confused and frightened by the changes happening around them? It must be disconcerting for them to see us alternating between showing serious, angry or even panic stricken facial expressions when we react to the latest news, to laughing hysterically at incoming jokes and videos.
Let’s protect our little ones
I think we need our phones at the moment. In many ways they are helping us to get through this surreal time. But let’s make sure we think carefully about when to use them-and when it’s more important to give our little ones a cuddle and some attention.
Or maybe we could look at a bigger screen to enjoy a shared activity!
Keep safe and well-with love from Jo xx