A Nation of Smartphone Zombies……

19 Jun

Maybe I’m getting old but I am frequently amazed by the apparent affects that Smartphone technology is having on our youngsters. They are permanently attached by both thumbs to their mobile phones, iPads or laptops. I coined the term ‘Smartphone Zombies’ because of the resemblance to the Zombies in George A. Romero’s 1978 creation, “Dawn of the Dead”. For those of you who are not familiar with the Zombie genre, the soulless shells of the Zombies stumble aimlessly around completely unaware of what is happening around them. The Smartphone Zombies appear to act in this manner, oblivious to the world beyond their LCD and keypad. Not only is this quite annoying to an old git like me but it adds to the ‘hoodie’ image of rude children who can only manage the odd grunt in between messages.

Being a concerned adult and in the interests of investigative journalism I decided to look a little closer into the communications of my 12 year old niece. First, I looked at the bill to ascertain the frequency of the texts and Blackberry messages. On a school day they started around 7.30am. Subsequently, they continued at 7.31, 7.33, 7.34, 7.36 and only ended at around 8.45am when the registration bell rings and all phones have to be turned off. The pattern resumed at 3.45pm, when the school day ended. Intrigued by the frequency, I have to admit to taking a sneaky look at the phone to find out what could be so important to require such regular back and forth conversation? To my disappointment the juicy gossip I was expecting to find was anything but. The general gist was both unnecessary and puerile. It was along the lines of “What sandwiches have you got?”; “I’ve got chocolate spread”. “What flavour crisps have you got?”; “Mine are cheese and onion”. “Shall I meet you at the bus stop?”; “Yes, but I’m catching the bus after I’ve been to Tesco”. “OK, I’ll meet you at Tesco and catch the later bus.”; “Will you be by the bins or behind the trolley park?”. “I’ll be behind the trolley park.”; “OK, I’ll meet you there”….. And on it goes; utter nonsense and nothing that couldn’t have been sorted out in a 1 minute call. None of this would be of such annoyance if you could get an answer from your child to a simple question. Instead, they just ignore you and carrying on typing like a Smartphone Zombie. This inane exchange of messages is also the reason that a £7.99 monthly package with 500 messages included, ends up costing the better part of £40.00 once the pointless messages are added at 10 pence each……

On a More Serious Issue……

I worry about the quality of my niece’s education. She attends one of the ‘flagship’ academies which sells itself as specialising in Science & Technology, although I have seen little evidence of this. The school do not provide any text books and all of the homework is accessed via the internet, presumably saving the school a lot of money and costing me a lot in ink. What I have noticed is that my niece’s homework is never properly marked. When I was at school the teacher would routinely correct spelling mistakes and punctuation errors. This is absent from my niece’s work despite some glaring errors. Another tactic the school has adopted is ‘special’ project days. When the school send out letters advising us of the ‘special’ days the state that they are for ‘gifted & talented’ pupils and request a ‘voluntary’ contribution of £20.00. I emailed the ‘gifted & talented’ co-ordinator to ask if all pupils were invited or if my niece had been specially selected. They replied stating that 50 pupils from each year had been invited on the recommendation of the form tutors. Not only do I feel it is wrong to segregate pupils in this way but the money was being paid to the board members who run the school. £20.00 x 50 pupils x 5 years amounts to £5000.00, paid to the people who run the school for 1 days work, the chairman of which has been suspended pending an investigation into financial irregularities…….

Smells fishy to me……

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