Belfast Telegraph

Mobile phones are leading us to neglect our duty as parents

By Billy Keane

Strange, isn't it, how small annoyances get inside our heads and drive us cracked? 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.

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 Pig (or whoever).

No, 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.

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.

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.

I remember one time bringing the kids to a Santa grotto 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 II 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 some- thing 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 con- clusion that dinosaurs don't wear vests.

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.

Belfast Telegraph


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