Jo Blogs is: walking across the road; Her child is: trailing behind.
There’s been a recurring feature in the news the last few days, and it seems everyone wants a piece of it. It’s called the ‘curse of the screen’, and relates recent research which has suggested that ‘mobile addict parents are guilty of child neglect’.
The reason I, too, have decided to jump on the bandwagon, is because my initial assumption of what the said research was trying to demonstrate was painfully minimised on reading the accompanying stories. You see, the reason ‘mobile addict parents’ are guilty of child neglect is quite simply, because they are setting a bad example. Or so the reports would have us believe.
So as phrases such as “benign neglect” and “passive parenting” dominate the headlines, we are told that the real danger of ‘mobile addict parents’ is that they are training their kids to do the same – thus creating a lifelong dependency on screens that they, fortunately/unfortunately, however you look at it, only picked up in adulthood.
Parents need to “regain control” of their households, the psychologist behind the warning, Dr Aric Sigman said, claiming that parent’s behaviour can play a key role in determining how children will treat technology.
All genuine concerns, I’m sure, but it’s not the first thing that crosses my mind.
Author of Toxic Childhood, Sue Palmer gets a little closer to the crux of the issue, retelling what a midwife recently told her in that it is becoming common for mothers in labour to text or post updates to their friends from the delivery room. “They are not even really present at the children’s births any more”, she said.
But I think it’s time to stop pussy-footing around with phrases such as “benign neglect” and “passive parenting”, and start being honest about the true dangers our technology addiction poses to our children.
Sitting on a wall over the weekend, my husband pointed a truly shocking sight out to me. Walking past was a man listening to music, a woman frantically typing away on her phone, and a young child, trailing behind and almost walking into a tree. Now, I couldn’t tell you what the relation between the man and woman was – if any – or how the child was connected to them. I can only assume he did belong to at least one of them, otherwise my example has just got a whole lot more worrying.
“Please promise me you’ll never be that type of parent”, my husband said to me. And I’d like to think that I wouldn’t be. But unless we start acknowledging the more pressing dangers of mobile addiction, I dread to think how many children will be left behind.
Born this way
When you take everything into consideration, allowing, Lady Gaga to excuse her oddities by claiming she was “Born This Way” is, I suppose, perfectly acceptable.
But attempting to alleviate psychopaths of all responsibility because they are, quite simply, ‘born bad, which is what one study has claimed this week, is not only completely gaga, but also very worrying.
Apparently, psychopaths have physically different brains from ‘normal’ people, and are ‘born to kill’.
The study raises the prospect of arguing a defence of insanity, which interestingly, is written as an afterthought, but in all honesty, is the only element of the findings which is not completely absurd. Insanity is a psychological illness, and if one is deemed as such at the time of committing a crime, for right or for wrong, that is between the defendant, the victim and the court. But to almost extrapolate from this so as to insinuate that all psychopaths are born insane, and thus by extension that all psychopathically-induced crime is fate, is just, well, insane.
According to the study, the scans showed that psychopaths have less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other people’s emotions. That’s as may be, but does that mean they have to act on it? I know people who aren’t great at understanding other people’s emotions, but I’d be hard-pressed to believe they had the ability to kill. After all, one may have a thing for blood, but there’s nothing stopping them from becoming a butcher.
You think that’s bad? That’s nothing compared to what the study then goes on to claim.
Because as a result of psychopaths being ‘born bad’, it must mean that there is, supposedly, ‘simply no point in treating them’. So not only are psychopaths excused from their actions, but there’s also nothing that can be done so as to prevent any further criminal activity in the future.
And it would seem that we haven’t learnt from past mistakes, either, or attempted to treat this reality, as ‘passing the buck’ of responsibility still seems to be the cornerstone of all crime. A murderer blaming his victim because, after all, he did sleep with his wife; a thief stealing from a rich old lady because she failed to implement the correct security measures. Adolf Hitler killing six million Jews because of course Germany’s downfall was their fault. And now, with a Neo Nazi party on the rise in Greece, things are just the same as they always have been.
“Those who have betrayed the homeland must now be afraid”, roared the leader of the Golden Dawn party this week, with the principal aim of ridding Greece of all illegal immigrants. “Greece is only the beginning … you know exactly what I mean.”
As always, responsibility is placed on innocent victims as the real psychopaths get away with murder
It seems the only brain matter missing is in us for allowing this culture to exist.
But then, it’s not our fault.
Anything you can do we can do better!
Disclaimer: No matter how it looks, I am not a feminist, and this is not a feminist rant.
Having said that, I’m also not one to take it lying down, either.
Which is why I’ve been left slightly perturbed at some of this week’s news headlines.
“Women more likely to suffer a broken heart”; “Women conscious of their body shape during exercise.”
Now I’m not arrogant or deluded enough to try and argue with these claims; fair enough - being guilty of both myself I can hardly challenge them.
But it’s the subtext of both which bothers me.
The first explains that the blood flow of men increases while adapting to stress, whereas for women it stays the same, thus explaining why women are more likely to suffer from coronary problems after mental health.
So far so acceptable.
But then study leader, Doctor Charles Ray, charges in with an emphasis on the importance of us women maintaining mental health. Patronising or what?
And it gets better.
The second article claims that the majority of women are conscious of their body while exercising in public and are concerned about what other women will think. Apparently, the same proportion doesn’t think they could keep up, and half won’t take part because they worry about looking silly. And Mind, who conducted the survey, also felt the need to point out that walking and cycling is good for one’s mental health.
Now here I have to step in.
You see, I spent the whole of last Saturday night walking 18km in torrential, unrelenting rain, through the centre of London, with 100 other women, some even as young as 11, for charity. My dad assumed it would be cancelled; my husband couldn’t sleep for the guilt. But on we went.
And I really must stress, not one of us looked even half decent. A flock of waterproof-jacketed, hooded, frizzy-haired, mascara-strewn females, frantically walking along the Thames. If anyone started the walk with concerns about looking silly, they certainly didn’t finish that way.
I would never have deemed this news-worthy enough to write about normally. We undertook a challenge, not for the congratulatory pat-on-the-backs or “well dones”, but for the peoples lives we wanted to improve. And as you and I know only too well, one can hardly place great expectations on British weather which, in and of itself, is hardly news.
But somewhat amusingly, the husband of the woman who organised the walk takes charge of a male football team, which had a final scheduled for Sunday morning. And would you believe it? It got cancelled due to bad weather.
So what is the point I am trying to make?
There’s nothing wrong with stating the obvious, other than it being incredibly boring. Yes, women are not as physically strong as men, and yes, we care more about how we look, too.
But drawing old fashioned conclusions from this and deeming it both valid and necessary to suggest that us women folk are mentally inferior is, quite frankly, insulting. We might have been, once upon a time, but we’re really not so different from you anymore.
Some might even say we’re better :)