The artist John Olsen recently lamented the decline of handwriting. Many of us do. We bore our children with whimsical tales of days gone by when we were forced to write thank-you letters, travelled the world with a wad of aerograms and kept journals. We tend to forget the hours we spent idle in front of the television or monopolising the home phone.
Olsen says he paints ‘‘his think’‘. Many young people prefer to ‘‘type’’ their think, and they do so on a plethora of gadgets to large, diverse audiences.
Is it time that we accepted that modes of communication have changed and in some cases at least, it might actually be for the better?
There is a lot of teeth-gnashing and hand-wringing whenever the words ‘‘children’‘, ‘‘social networks’‘, ‘‘smartphones’’ and ‘‘internet access’’ are used in the same sentence. But at a school speech night last week, the headmistress of SCEGGS junior school, Elizabeth Cumming, prosecuted her case for the safe use of social media and smartphones. She also took the opportunity to remind parents that their children had only known a world with technology. She was cautiously enthusiastic.
When my brother and I didn’t go straight home after school, our parents had no way of knowing where we were or how to get in touch with us. These days, we can text or call our children and chances are they will - in most cases - instinctively respond. When they don’t, we turn to our trusty smartphones and start contacting their siblings, friends, even parents of friends whose numbers we don’t know off by heart, but which are safely stored in our precious devices.
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