Tag Archives: mobile phones

Mobile phones: do parents need to turn them off as much as their children?

Today whilst sitting in a local café I saw something vaguely disturbing – which I seem to see almost every day now. This may be rather an unusual subject for a blog, but I just had to sit down and write this piece. A parent had obviously just picked up his daughter from school – she was maybe five or six year’s old – and taken her out for a well-meaning treat. But after five minutes or so, I noticed her just staring out of the window. The father was on his mobile phone for almost the entire length of the time that I was there – at least twenty minutes, if not longer.

The child would intermittently try to get her father’s attention, saying look at this or that, but he would glance across at her with a quick smile and then carry on scrolling – and scrolling, not taking any meaningful interest in what she was saying. They were in my line of sight so I could not escape the whole thing. The little girl was trying so hard to engage with her father, but his attention was elsewhere. In the end I think she just gave up. Maybe he had something very important to sort out, it is not for me to judge, but I have seen this pattern of behaviour repeated many times – especially on train journeys. It is strange how we so often criticise children and adolescents for spending too much time on their phones, when their parents can be at least as culpable. Sometimes there are also safety implications; I have seen the parents of small children using their phones whilst crossing the road, with their young charges walking ahead unsupervised.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 25 Comments

‘Not-Spots’: if the networks won’t fill them, should Lib Dems try to force them to?

It’s mid-June and the time for London Technology week, a showcase for technological innovation. 5th generation mobile phones are almost upon us and along with the promise of blazingly fast mobile download speeds comes a renewed call for mobile phone operators to improve the rural coverage of their networks. In a conference sponsored by technology thinktank Cambridge Wireless, industry players gathered to discuss the issue in the high tech ambience of the Digital Catapult on the Euston Road.

Large areas of the UK, especially Scotland, still do not receive good quality mobile coverage. A report published earlier this year by Ofcom, the official body that regulates communication, found that 30% of the UK’s landmass lacks coverage from at least one of the ‘big four’ mobile networks, increasing to 60% in Scotland. Worse, there are many so-called ‘not-spots’ where there is no coverage at all. As one speaker explained to the assembled audience, planning rules don’t help: the UK has one of the most stringent height restrictions in the world for mobile phone masts, greatly limiting the coverage area each mast can provide.

Worried about the continuing ‘digital divide’, Ofcom proposes that new licences to operate networks should come with an obligation to provide 92% coverage of the UK landmass. They claim that this will benefit rural communities that otherwise would miss out if operators determined coverage on purely commercial considerations. This has powerful political support from lobbying groups such as the Countryside Alliance, and the 2017 Liberal Democrat manifesto committed to improving rural mobile coverage. I believe these calls are misguided and will create social injustices while reducing the quality of mobile networks in the UK, thus directly harming our economy.

There is no doubt that improving coverage in a rural area does indeed benefit the local economy since individuals and businesses that rely on good mobile and internet can occupy properties they would not have previously considered. This attracts more affluent persons to low-cost rural areas, providing them with improved lifestyle opportunities, and creating a demand for local services.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

We must all examine our consciences regarding mobile phones in cars

geograph-3292071-by-david-dixonIt’s a local stretch of the A34 I know well. On August 10th we were all stunned and horrified by the terrible accident which occurred there, as reported by the Guardian:

A lorry driver who killed a woman and three children when his vehicle ploughed into their stationary car while he was scrolling through music on his mobile phone has been jailed for 10 years.

Tracy Houghton, 45, her sons, Ethan, 13, Josh, 11, and stepdaughter, Aimee, 11, died instantly when Tomasz Kroker drove his lorry into their car at 50mph. Their car was shunted underneath the back of a heavy goods vehicle and crushed to a third of its size.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 5 Comments

LibLink: David Boyle – The future? We’ve seen it all before

 

Over on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, former editor of Liberal Democrat News and Liberal Democrat blogger of the year, David Boyle, argues that technological change is slowing and we are increasingly re-embracing old “real” ways:

…we cling to the real world ever more tightly as the virtual world presses its claims, a phenomenon predicted by the American philosopher Robert Nozick. A growing minority of us may not shun tablets or ebooks (I write them, for goodness sake). We might even drink instant coffee sometimes. But we are determined that the unspun, unmanipulated and unmarketed shall not perish from this Earth. Even if we have to wait in line for a hissing coffee machine.

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged , and | 14 Comments

Daily View 2×2: 1 January 2010

Happy New (General Election) Year!

On this day in 1973, the UK joined the European Community, along with Denmark and the Republic of Ireland. On January 1, 2002, Euro coins and banknotes became legal tender in twelve of the European Union’s member states.

It’s a quarter of a century since Britain’s first mobile phone call was made. In a seemingly random intersection of the Fates, comedian Ernie Wise was calling from St Katherine’s Dock to a room above a Newbury curry house – the then office of a little company called Vodafone.

2 Interesting Stories

Is a Labour-Tory coalition unthinkable? Only until you think about it
Martin Kettle muses in the Guardian on a hung Parliament:

It seems innocent to assume that either Labour or the Tories would automatically turn first to the Liberal Democrats in those circumstances – or that the Lib Dems would necessarily deliver. The big parties could calculate that they would be better off in a marriage of convenience with a historic enemy they respected, from which they could withdraw with dignity when the moment was right, rather than to embark on a more permanent entanglement with a Lib Dem party which at bottom they each despise.

The more one looks at the evolutionary dynamics of British politics, the more serious the grand coalition option may one day become. Is a Labour-Conservative deal really unthinkable? Only until you start thinking about it.

At least the next government won’t be decided on the toss of a coin… or will it?

Coin tossing through the ages

The Telegraph has an interesting history, including this:

Posted in Daily View and Europe / International | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , and | 5 Comments
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