i-Scream for my screen


Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Mi­randa Mur­phy Mi­randa Mur­phy is a mother of three and a jour­nal­ist at The Aus­tralian

SCHOOL hol­i­days are over. “Yay!” cheer the par­ents of NSW. “Boo!” re­ply the chil­dren, pan­tomime-style.

Ac­tu­ally, the dreaded hol­i­days weren’t too tricky this time around be­cause I fol­lowed some good old-fash­ioned par­ent­ing ad­vice and regularly just left the kids to their own de­vices.

The prob­lem is, those de­vices were made by multi­na­tional elec­tron­ics cor­po­ra­tions.

And now the kids have to be weaned off them again.

Any par­ent not en­gaged in an epic bat­tle with their off­spring over use of what we might quaintly call “‘video games” a) has un­sur­passed ne­go­ti­a­tion skills and should be ap­pointed Pres­i­dent of Earth im­me­di­ately, or b) is tak­ing part in one of those “liv­ing in the 1700s ex­per­i­ments” where the only bat­tle is over who gets to play with the spin­ning jenny.

So now I’m try­ing to think up a new word for what I’ve spent the past empty hour do­ing.

It would de­scribe the ac­tion — or, rather, in­ac­tion — of sim­ply wait­ing it out for the bat­tery power to drain on all the elec­tronic de­vices the kids are cur­rently play­ing, be­cause you don’t have the energy for the “now stop and put away all the de­vices” tus­sle.

A few terms might work: iWait? DS-pair? Par­en­tropy? A friend may have nailed it with Du­ra­hell.

Yes, it may seem a mas­sive parental cop-out but any minute now all the lights will fade out on mum’s iPad and dad’s iPhone and the kids will emerge blink­ing into the day — and this time it won’t be be­cause I’ve ca­joled, de­manded and fi­nally shrieked at them to turn the blim­min’ things off.

Who knew those de­vices would be so … di­vi­sive?

They promised so much at first — sleek lit­tle pack­ets of en­ter­tain­ment magic that de­liv­ered a con­ve­nient short­cut to child-paci­fi­ca­tion, es­pe­cially in cafes and on long-dis­tance travel.

But it’s a slip­pery slope from al­low­ing an oc­ca­sional burst on An­gry Birds to find­ing that your small boy has been furtively play­ing Crossy Road as a pi­geon named Poopy on a smug­gled iPad for an hour, de­spite be­ing too young to cross a real road in the real world un­aided.

Then there are the warn­ings that our young will de­velop square eyes, hy­per­ex­tended thumbs and the com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills of the Mario Broth­ers.

Sure, we im­pose de­vice­free pe­ri­ods — we achieved a whole week re­cently and pat­ted our­selves on the backs, big time — but the sec­ond the kids get their hands back on them the crazed glint re­turns to their eyes and the bat­tle be­gins again.

So now that school hol­i­days are over it’s time to book the kids into AA — that’s Ap­ple Anony­mous.

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