Fri, 2 Nov, 2018
Does a smartphone make us smart?
Barbara Binland is the pen name of a senior, Julie Grenness, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is a poet, writer, and part-time English and Maths tutor, with over 40 years of experience. Her many books are available on Amazon and Kindle.
Does a smartphone make us smart?
Once upon a childhood, we recall that we lived in a different world. On Saturday
afternoons, our parents would drive us to a far-flung suburb, where our maternal
grandparents lived. The adults loved us dearly, but believed that children should be seen
and not heard.
We would arrive punctually at 2pm. After a brief pit stop, our Nanna would say,
“Go for a walk!” Our mother would add, “Come back at four o’clock.” So that is exactly what
In an unfamiliar suburb, with no street directory, or no GPS, or no watches to tell
the time, not even a modern plastic bottle of water for refreshment, three young
Australians would “Go for a walk!” Thus, we walked, past front yard gardens, along strange
streets. We would walk for approximately one hour, then we turned around and walked
back to our grandparents’ home. My elder sister must have had a good sense of geography.
Upon reflection, I do wonder what the current parent police would say now, to such
child-raising habits. As every reader is aware, these days, there are smart phones employed
to supervise children’s adventures in society. Such smart phones had not been imagined
once, let alone invented.
Our oldies collectively had no idea where we were walking to, or even if we would
return let alone at the correct time. Somehow, we just knew it was nearly four o’clock in
the afternoon. Maybe we all lived in a safer world, where we were mostly a lot more naïve
than folk and children are today.
Times change. These days, in the digital world of the 21st century, if children go for
a walk, the parent police phone their offspring up every five minutes on their smart phones.
As passers-by, we can hear some very strange conversations, in shopping centres or railway
stations. Here is one I heard, not long ago.
The parent police must have asked, “Where are you now?”
Teenager on phone: “I am at the shops, Mum.”
Mum must have inquired, “Where are you going?”
Teenager’s response: “I am going to the loo!”
Mum’s next question, “What are you doing now?”
Teenager, sounding slightly exasperated, “I’m in the loo, having a wee! Mum!””
Well, really. I wondered if it was really necessary to share with society, including
Now there is someone calling on my smart phone! Whoops missed call. I must cease
everything and return the call. It seems everyone I see is either gazing at a smart phone, or
chatting on one. Are we so scared to be alone?
Are we all like the teenager in the shopping centre loo, with her mother calling her
incessantly on her smart phone, the modern parent police? Would parents in these modern
days even say, “Go for a walk!”, to send their children off for two hours, with no time pieces,
or smart phones to monitor them? These days the parents must check for the location of
their children, and for potential predators.
So, the world is no longer as safe as it once appeared to be. There was the famous
case of the Beaumont children. “Go for a walk, go for a swim!” Those three children have,
unfortunately, never been seen again.
Amazingly, the three young girls we once were never disappeared, got lost, and
always arrived back by four o’clock, unmolested. These days, our mother would have
phoned us every five minutes on our smart phones, so we were not feeling apart. The smart
phone is a great invention, but if everyone has to relate every action on a smart phone, has
the smart phone really made us smart? Food for thought. “See ya!” (The great Australian
smart phone farewell.). Yeah, “See ya!”