Tag Archives: social media

Looking Down – the Joy of using a Smart Phone

I will admit it. I’m fed up to the back teeth about the backlash against smart phone use recently.  Not just from my husband (that old chestnut) but also from …..ummmm social media.

You may have seen this you tube post on Facebook and Twitter called “Look Up” . Hell, you may have even shared it.  You might have even written “Oh this is a must watch. Everyone can learn from this”.  I do hope you didn’t share it whilst on your SMART PHONE people.  Oh the irony.

I just hate the fact everyone moans about everyone being on their phones, usually through posts on their phones, when we really have to just learn to live with the fact that they aren’t going away.

Which brings to me the BEST things about using your smart phone.  It’s nice to look up but there is a lot to be gained from LOOKING DOWN.

It’s not just Social Media that people use Phones for.

Social media is my gateway to news articles, political issues, magazine articles, online content, blogs.  Basically I don’t buy magazines or newspapers, but I can access most things on my smart phone and I do.  My head is down because I’m reading about FGM in Egypt or getting to grips with the conflict in Syria, because someone has blogged an easy to read article.  If I had a newspaper on my lap, apparently that’s alright is it?

I access the BBC website daily on my phone.  It’s the only way I get to find out about the news because I’m at work too early, have dinner at 6pm and can often go to bed before the 10pm news.

 It’s Great for Kids

Obviously, the important thing here is “moderation”. My kids love using it, but it’s a real treat for them, a great bargaining tool and is a great educational tool.  Obviously alongside all the other great things about childhood like schooling, sport, countryside and conversation.  It’s just one more useful tool for them.  My daughter improved her letter writing using a phonetics game on my ipad, when she was struggling.  It felt like she was playing a game. I don’t think I would have had the same enthusiasm from her at the dinner table with a pencil and me.

The video talks about “Swings hanging still.  No kids in the playground.” I just don’t believe this has ANYTHING to do with social media.  My children (3 and 6) would choose the playground over a smart phone any day of the week.  I imagine most children would up to a certain age.  The playgrounds are very very busy whenever I see them. Lunch time they are empty….because duh, it’s lunch.  They are busy just after school pick up. Weekends around here, it’s hell at a playground. queuing for the swings and slides. I get really fed up people think children are at home being zombies.  I have yet to see any evidence of this.   I really don’t get it.

Whilst we are on the subject, I get really bloody irate at everyone talking about the hey day of their bloody childhood.  The Golden Years is a psychological state of mind.  Our parents did it, their parents did it, their parents before them did it.  I spent an hour or two every week on the Commodore 64 (yes, I’m that old), I also played weird new zippy games that had parts to it and hours and hours playing Barbie dolls by myself.  None of which my parents did.  My mum and dad were always trying to shove me out of the house. I did go out, for hours down our BIG garden, but it’s not different to now.  WE are having the SAME conversations with our kids. Their toys are more sophisticated, as will their children’s and their children’s children.  Get over it!

 It’s Improved my Social Life

I am an introvert.  I will choose home over every other option open to me.  I hate meeting new people (although I appreciate that you have to sometimes to find new friends) and I have children and very few babysitting options.  For me, chatting on Facebook or to people on Twitter has opened my eyes to a new kind of friendship.  It’s not deep but it’s supportive.  I know a lot of gregarious people over the years that had a tonne of friends who they met up with socially in pubs and clubs but had no more understanding of who they were or anything deeper than I have with my twitter friends.  I knew one guy who constantly slagged of his loads of mates.  Just because they live in my phone, doesn’t make it any less important.

It’s Supportive and DOES show the good and bad times

The second point on the video was about not sharing the bad times and creating a great veneer of a life via social media.  You’ve obviously never seen my bloody Facebook timeline then. It is a pit of whinge, disaster, personal sadness and insecurity.  It is also a place where I get to celebrate the good times with people, watch lifelong journeys happen and join in with watching families grow despite being 10,000 miles away.

I Have Learnt so Much

Through the blogging community, twitter, articles and news feeds I have learnt so much.   I have read more feminist articles than you can poke a stick at, rounding my views, focussing my arguments.  I have glimpsed, through bloggers, a small understanding of what it is like to raise special needs children, disabled children or just challenging children.  This has not only taught me empathy, but has shown to be useful for me in real life.  I know the right things to say, the things to avoid saying and the attitudes to take. I have no one close to me with these family challenges, so I couldn’t have learnt any other way.

I have connected to a lot of people on Twitter that have proved useful to my life.  Connecting to someone who runs a website about moving out of London has been a great source of information for me.  All of which I read via my phone.

I have also learnt that I use bobby pins the wrong way up, that too many people are being drawn into UKIP’s web of lies and that Gogglebox’s posh couple have their house up for sale. Admittedly, these aren’t that important, but they are entertaining none the less.

I Still Read Books

Oh yes I do.  I do most Looking Down when the tv is on, or when I’m bored at work, or on a train, or waiting in a queue. I think it’s good use of my time.  In the evening, I read a book. On my kindle (50% of the time).  Does that count? It’s a device. I’m looking down.  I did make a conscious decision to buy a paperwhite so I wouldn’t be distracted by email or Facebook posts.

The thing is, if I was reading a political book that would be ok to most people. The fact I’m reading a political article on my phone isn’t a good thing.  I find this weird.  I’m still taking in information on both counts.

My mate was a big bookworm growing up (as was I) and she used to get into trouble reading at the dinner table.  Sounds like a familiar argument to me.  It’s still not “in the moment” is it?

I’m always reminded of this photo when I think of the good old days before using a phone.

reading newspapersSocial bunch weren’t they?

Using smart phones is not a fad, they will stay with us now, but the use of them will follow the trajectory of a fad for individuals.  Inevitably we will spend a lot of time looking down when we get them for the first time, when we are young and when we are in particular situations like standing by ourselves and feeling self-conscious.  However, we will soon work out BY OURSELVES when they are invading our lives too much. Maybe at a low point in our life or when you look around the dining table and realise we aren’t engaging.  Then we impose our own limits to things, in our own time.  Just like my friend couldn’t read at the table, so too we will impose those rules. No devices after 9pm to help me sleep. Consciously placing the phone elsewhere when you have visitors or putting them in our pocket.

It just kind of annoys me that people think it’s ok to tell me that I’m looking down too much. I’m looking down just the right amount of time at the moment thank you very much.

I’m being defensive. You bet I am. My life is better for Looking Down.

What a 40 year old Can Teach a Teenager


I’m anticipating my conversations with my daughter in a few years time.  You know the ones. The ones where my teenager thinks she knows everything and I’m such an old fuddy duddy (she won’t use that word) that I couldn’t possibly understand what it’s like for her.  I couldn’t possible “get” what her and her friends are going through.

So I’ve been working on a list (as you do) that I will happily share with her when the time comes.  Let me know what I’ve missed out.


Since the beginning of time, these have not changed. The mode by which they can be conducted may have, but on the whole “Ugg” and “Uhhh” were dealing with jealousy, fear, committment, lack of attention and arguments back when a relationship could break down over Ugg’s inability to fix the pounding stone securely to the cave floor.

I have “been around the block”. I’ve even gone around again, got the t-shirt, washed the t-shirt, lost the t-shirt, demanded the t-shirt back and cut the t-shirt up into pieces.  I HAVE HAD RELATIONSHIPS, with all sorts of blokes. That’s experience for you.  On top of that, I have had more friends than you, people who have also had relationships, of which I have helped, listened to and sympathised over.  Whilst you have 3 friends from primary school and about 5 friends in high school, I’ve accumulated far more experience of other people’s relationships since then. 8 from school,  plus around 10 from every place I’ve ever worked at (nearing 100), plus friends I made through relationships who may have come and gone, but I was there through tough times.  Let’s round that up to about 200.  I’d say I’ve got an experience I can relate to in ANY circumstance, wouldn’t you?  As I said – “I do understand”.  Relationships are complicated.


There are many of us “oldies” who probably know a lot more than we really want to let on.  There are few drugs (some of the harder ones) I haven’t tried.  I know what peer pressure feels like, I know about the tussle between head and heart.  I know the decision to leap into the abyss even though every bone in your body is telling you to not risk it.  I did it for a number of years and when that decision became more of an ordeal than the experience, I stopped.

Having said all that. I did have an awful lot of fun.  Thankfully with the right tune on I can get “total recall” without the drugs.  To be honest, nothing beats a good disco nap before a night out, a few drinks and dancing.  Even then, it felt like I big fat lie.  Fabricated fun. Tricking the brain.

At any rate, feel free to ask me about E, LSD, coke, speed and marijuana.  Making the decision to take any of those will have a big impact on your life.  Short term it can be devastating.  I was lucky. I also know that it’s not as simple as that and I can’t pretend you won’t get the opportunity.

I know I don’t take anything stronger than a horlicks these days, but trust me, I still remember.


“I don’t know what you are using. I don’t know what you want it to do. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career on social media. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you insist on signing up to the latest social media fad, then fine.  That won’t be the end of it.  I will look for you, I will find you, and I will learn how to use it!”*


Instead of rolling your eyes whilst I check out your “oh so not suitable” outfit, just give a second.  I need to take the time to process what the hell you are wearing.  Not necessarily to give you a bollocking or ask you to change, just to …. process it.

You see, I was a teenager once and I wore some pretty odd things.  Well, they weren’t odd to me, just to my parents.  I know it’s more important to wear the right things than wear the clothes that are flattering.  A belt around the middle might balance out an outfit but if belts are not worn by teenagers, well, I get that!

Have a muffin top.  Wear your trousers too short or your top too baggy or shoes that make your feet look 2 sizes too big.  I don’t really care.  Just let me get used to it.


Overall I think I was a pretty good teenager. I didn’t have boyfriends until I was 18. I was shy.  I dabbled in a bit of marijuana (once as a teenager) but I always made it back for my curfew and rarely was out.

Listening to my mum, you’d think I was the most horrible teenager in the world.  I guess it was an attitude thing I wasn’t very aware of at the time. I haven’t forgotten that.  I know we aren’t going to be the best of friends and that everything I say and do will be wrong, but trust in me.  I do remember how nothing else mattered except what I was doing.  I remember not caring how my parents felt. I remember how the smallest incident felt like the most horrendous, world shattering event.  I promise I won’t forget that.  I will always do what I think is right and I will try to explain my decisions with you as best I can.

I will try to share the journey from childhood to adulthood with you as best as I can.  I promise when we get out the other side we will be stronger and closer than every before.

But always remember.  I DO KNOW MORE THAN YOU DO. A 40-year-old can teach a teenager an awful lot.


*adapted from a well known movie quote. Gold star if you can guess.

No, it’s not Flu

It’s that time of year again when friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter and my colleagues at work are all claiming to have flu.  Influenza.Bird flu virus

It would seem that the minute anyone has anything other than a runny nose they immediately claim they have flu.

If you are putting up a Facebook Status, it’s not flu.

If you are eating breakfast, it’s not flu.

If you fancy a cup of tea. It’s not flu.

If you are watching tv, it’s not flu.

Here’s a really good rule of thumb that someone told me a couple of years ago:

If someone told you that there was gold buried in your back garden and you can’t be bothered to get up and go and dig it up, then you’ve probably got flu.

It is entirely possible that if you are too unwell to go to work or do the school run and you just feel like lying in bed or perhaps having some more sleep, that you have a severe cold virus.  Cold viruses can be very mild or very severe and I have been off work for a couple of days with a severe cold virus.

If you are fannying about on social media. YOU DON’T HAVE FLU.


Social Media and Children

I recently set up my school’s PTA Facebook page and Twitter account.  Everyone in the PTA Meeting I was at, looked on blankly as I mentioned how useful this would be to parents.  There was much scoffing, smart comments and a lot of patting on the back that they were all as useless as the next when it came to social media.  They were very happy to have someone do it for them.FacebookLogoApril2013-150x1501

After I set up the page I sent the link off to about 5 people to review it.  1 replied to say “great, thank you. It’s perfect”, 3 didn’t reply and 1 replied with “I’m a bit old-fashioned and don’t have a Facebook account, should I be able to see it?”

This person has a daughter who is 6, in fact her daughter is friends with mine.  Is it just me that finds this attitude slightly worrying?  If she hasn’t got a grasp of our oldest and least tech savvy social media platforms will she ever know what the hell her daughter is up to when she’s doing more sophisticated ones?

I was reminded of this last year when my brother-in-law came to me for advice about his 13-year-old daughter who is on Facebook and was sharing some worrying things.  I gave him a bit of a smirk and reminded him that he had always ribbed me about my use of social media platforms.  Everyone would comment about how much time I spent on them (I posted a status, replied to others, in the evening) and now, all of a sudden, they are turning to me for advice.  I revelled in this.

I feel I would know enough to get to grips with some of the stuff my daughter and son may do online. I’ll never pretend I’ll know everything.  When they set up the latest account on the latest new thing, I will do the same.  I will do it for their safety, but I’ll also do it for my own interest in the way our culture is moving.  I think once you start getting left behind, it’s very hard to catch up.  You only have to look at our parent’s generation who struggle with using “windows” to know that is always the case.  I started using computers in my 20’s so I feel I had the head start.

I just can’t really get my head around the fact so many parents have no idea about social media.  Is this worrying?  Do you feel you have a good grasp?