This time of year, restaurants and pubs are full of families, friends and work colleagues happily quaffing foaming ale and feasting on turkey dinners with all the trimmings – whatever they are.
However, amongst each group of diners there’s often someone ‘quaffing’ soft drinks rather than foaming ale – the designated driver.
When vegan organisations go out for Christmas lunch, do 99% of the members munch on salad while one of their group tucks into meat, potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes – the designated diner?
This year I’ve noticed more people than ever in restaurants and cafes constantly checking their smart phones instead of chatting with whoever’s sat opposite them. This unsociable activity has now spread to Christmas lunch.
Groups of people out for a festive meal spend little time laughing and groaning at Christmas cracker jokes and avoid potentially interesting conversations that distract them from looking down at their phone, placed next to the knife, fork and soup spoon like a glowing item of cutlery.
Just what amazingly important messages are these people expecting?
Next week’s winning lottery numbers?
My thought that this obsession is a type of addiction was confirmed in a new study by Kings College, London which revealed that one quarterof young people are so dependent on their smart phone that when denied access to it they become panicky and upset – similar behaviour to addicts deprived of alcohol or drugs.
The study also said that these youngsters are unable to control the number of hours spent on their phones and this could be linked with other problems such as stress, lack of sleep, a depressed mood and falling behind in their education.
There’s been a lot of really helpful media coverage regarding young people’s mental health problems, many of which are rooted in the same deep anxieties experienced by generations of teenagers. Exam stress; self-consciousness; needing to be accepted within our peer group, etc.
If a communication device causes additional anxiety when they’re denied access to it and causes them to be depressed when they have access to it, can it truly be called a ‘smart’phone?