It seems so long ago now.  What did people do in the days before the Internet and mobile phones took over their lives?  I remember spending more time outside in the summer visiting places of interest, jogging to keep fit, or sitting in the garden. I conversed, read books, and wrote stories without the distraction of irritating notifications popping up. I watched TV, completed jigsaw puzzles, or played family board games on long winter evenings, and always there was time spent playing and reading stories to my children.  There were Sunday afternoon visits to relatives or friends, where we all sat around and engaged in meaningful conversation and making eye contact.

On long car journeys as a passenger I read or listened to the radio or to music cassettes.  If children were in the car we played I-Spy or games to boost memory recall.  Sometimes we even sang in harmony if we all knew the song.

When we arrived to pick up our granddaughters to take them to our holiday home recently they were in their bedrooms, silently exercising their thumbs on their devices of choice.  Silence also reigned supreme in the car because instead of looking about at their surroundings, they were concentrating on texting.

In cinemas and music venues there is usually a notice before the film/concert asking politely for people to turn off their mobile phones.  More often than not you can hear buzzing during the film from nearby iPhones that have instead been switched to silent.  The culprits then miss part of the film as they’re intent on reading a new message/email.

Was this worldwide addiction foreseen back in the 1980’s?  It started with electronic tennis and simple games like Space Invaders that plugged into the TV.  Then came Game Boys, which my sons’ paternal grandparents bought them for Christmas and which took my eldest son over completely.  We banned mobile phones until both sons were working and could afford to buy their own.  My own mobile phone used to sit in the car just for emergencies, until my family complained that I never answered it.  I still don’t like talking on it because not enough time has passed to determine whether the radiation from mobile phones is dangerous or not.  It tends to lie dormant in my rucksack until I remember to charge it up. A former boss talked on his mobile phone most of the day, and there was always a raised, red patch in front of his ear.

It’s progress I suppose as many people like my husband can work at home using the Internet, but as far as iPhones and family interactions are concerned, we’ve all gone a step backwards.