Wednesday 26 October 2016

Mobile phones allow parents today to abdicate their responsibilities

Published 31/08/2015 | 02:30

'We took the Wi-Fi out of our pub so people have to talk to each other'
'We took the Wi-Fi out of our pub so people have to talk to each other'

Strange, isn't it, how small annoyances get inside our heads and drive us cracked? The annoyances mightn't even register as any more than a subliminal flicker with anyone else.

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So there I am, lying on the couch, watching the television and the phone goes off. Up I get and start to search for my phone, but it's not my phone that's doing all the ringing - it's the one on the television, owned by a bank robber. He's a killer. About eight slaughtered so far and at least nine wounded. But did all that mayhem bother me? No. It was his phone going off. People's phones going off on TV drives me mad, especially in ads. And it's not even my ringtone.

I lost my phone a few days ago. Even now as I write, I can feel the ringtone running up against my thigh, even though the phone isn't there. It's like when someone loses a limb, they can still feel the missing leg.

I'm in a desperate state without the phone.

I'm not as bad as the kids who are constantly on their phones when live conversations are going on all around them. It's ignorant behaviour, but they're just kids, aren't they? It used to be that parents got a break from minding the kids from the babysitter in the corner, or the television.

There was one couple I know who only ever managed a bit of lovemaking when they switched on a video or a DVD of Peppa Pig. Here's one for you to ask your parents in years to come: "Mammy and daddy, am I a Peppa Pig baby?"

I wouldn't see anything wrong with making use of the babysitter in the corner by harassed parents. The kids will be happy enough and there was no terrible messages sent out by Peppa. I'd much prefer to be a Peppa Pig baby than a PlayStation baby. And at least you can call the child Peppa. I've never heard of a baby by the name of PlayStation Murphy.

So the point is, today's parents are totally abdicating their responsibilities by allowing the kids to spend the whole of their waking moments on their phones. It's a trade-off. The teenagers put on the moody teenager face and the parents are left to get on with their lives. It's the Peppa Pig solution.

Maybe we could bring back Barney, the friendly dinosaur, who bore absolutely no resemblance to a real dinosaur. Not that I ever met one. Barney was more like a big purple teddy and even the smallest kids weren't in the least bit scared of him. I've seen small kids who are absolutely petrified of Santa and his grotto.

And who ever heard of a grotto in the North Pole? Surely the grotto would be frozen over, seeing as water is an integral part of grottos. I know this hasn't very much to do with what we are talking about this morning, but grottos are for Lourdes and the like and the guy who made up the term 'Santa's grotto' was trying to cash in on the Irish devotion to Lourdes.

There are lots of Barney babies out there too. Barney was a wonderful childminder in the old days, and sure there was no harm at all in him with his great big hugs and his lovely positive message of love and caring.

I checked the list of most popular Irish names and I couldn't find a Barney or a Peppa.

It would be a good laugh though if you had a friend by the name of Barney or Peppa, to ask them if they were called after a pig or a dinosaur. And while you were at it, you could ask him or her to ask his or her mother or father if he or she was conceived during a run of the Barney video.

The grotty grotto marketing manoeuvre is still causing an annoyance.

I remember one time bringing the kids to a Santa grotto in Cork when Santa, in an unguarded moment, called a child's father a 'langer'. Then we go off to another shop and there's another Santa, and the kids ask how come there's two Santas and later on we see Santa 2 smoking a fag with his beard off because, I suppose, it's probably highly flammable.

Back to the kids and the phones. I'm pretty sure the kids are trapped, in that they are afraid to switch off the phones in case they miss out on something or risk alienating their friends who will contact someone else.

There's probably a good side too, in that the kids can keep in touch if they're a bit down, but really, the kids are slaves to the phone. And as for the parents, all they want is a bit of peace and quiet.

The Barney solution had its flaws too. I brought the young lad to Barney up the country a few years ago. He was a mock Barney, dressed up in a faded purple costume with loads of these little ball-bearing-sized woolly things and a tear where you could see his vest, which kind of ruined it for me as it's a proven conclusion that dinosaurs don't wear vests. The T rex is going off out hunting for a feed on Neanderthals and he says to his mate, "Hold on a sec 'til I put on my vest."

The mock Barney had a smell of drink off him and BO from being insulated in a hot costume and dancing to the song that went 'I love you, you love me'.

Whoever it was that said you should never meet your heroes wasn't far wrong.

I almost forgot to tell you. We took the Wi-Fi out of our pub so people have to talk to each other. So there.

Irish Independent

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