Tag Archives: iphone

Modern childhood milestones – mobile phones

This week we gave our daughter her first mobile phone. It’s as natural as first steps, or losing a first tooth, but I feel a bit sad about hitting this technological milestone.

Finally, we can all sit together as a family in the same room and chat silently with people who are not in the room. Cool.

A quick audit of main computing/electronic devices in our family of four people looks like this:

  • 1 x desktop
  • 2 x laptops
  • 2 x tablets
  • 4 x personal mobile phones
  • 2 x work mobile phones.

This is probably fairly standard these days for privileged middle-class urban types like us. (I haven’t bothered to add Kindles, digital radios and other paraphernalia.)


A healthy conversation about fruit and vegetables. 

Mobile phones at school

I’ve lectured my kids for years about (what I consider to be) the proper use of technology and the internet. E.g. “It’s all designed to be hugely addictive and your soft fresh young brains are no match for the shiny shiny digital temptation.” Or else: “Our bodies are NOT designed to be hunched over phones. ‘Text neck’ is a real thing!”

 [ Aside: A typical adult human head weighs 10 to 12 pounds. As the head tilts forward, the strain on your neck increases. At 15 degrees of forward tilt, this may equate to a head weighing 27 pounds. At 30 degrees forward, the strain on the neck equals a 40 pound head. https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/ergonomics/your-cell-phone-killing-your-back ]

It will be interesting to see how my kids will learn to deal with technology at school, as they aren’t allowed to use them during the school day.

My initial feeling is relief. No worries about theft, losing phones, cyber-bullying, cheating in tests etc. And school can be one safe place where there is respite from the unfair fight against evil purveyors of tech addiction …

However, my young digital natives need to learn to manage technology and devices appropriately. Especially when I’m not around with my passionate parental hassling.

Phone-less in transit

Right now, my dad is flying over to visit us from Australia. He forgot to bring his phone, so our immediate response was “How will we find him at the airport?!” Hmmmm; how did we used to do this before phones? Then my brother sent me a message: “Dad just called me from someone’s phone, he said to meet him at the hire car spot.” Just like the old days.

text conversation

This is what passes for conversation in our family.


Here’s one I wrote earlier

The invasion of the attention-snatchers. Using technology mindfully.  Does that sound like a phrase created by rich young white men in grey organic bamboo t-shirts? Turns out that I‘ve actually been doing it for years…  I wasn’t trying to be mindful, I just don’t like technology telling me what to do.

The Dark Side of digital time wasting. Lost : one incomplete Death Star. I have lost my Tiny Death Star. I’ve been working hard on adding levels for Emperor Palpatine since December, and tonight my 75% complete moon-sized battle station disappeared off my phone.

The invasion of the attention-snatchers

Using technology mindfully.  Does that sound like a phrase created by rich young white men in grey organic bamboo t-shirts? Turns out that I‘ve actually been doing it for years…  I wasn’t trying to be mindful, I just don’t like technology telling me what to do.

This morning, while mindlessly Twitter-scrolling during the kids’ swimming lessons, I found some people with interesting job titles explaining why and how to take control of our technology.

The rebirth of calm

I found this article first: The rebirth of calm: Why we need technology with manners.  Amber Case, who is a Cyborg Anthropologist (!!) talks about why technology needs to be less intrusive and more polite.

“… fancy computerised replacements threaten to overcomplicate the tiniest details of life. Imagine a fridge or an AI-studded fruit bowl that texts you when one of your bananas is rotting. That might sound nice, but Case points out that a banana already comes with a custom technology that lets you know it’s going bad: “It’s a peel,” she says.”

Time Well Spent

That first article led me to this website: Time Well Spent. They are a bunch of designers who want technology help us spend our time well. They have a manifesto (of course they do), but it makes sense.

“We believe in the possibility of better design, that lets us connect without getting sucked in. And disconnect, without missing something important.”

They also have a video of a TED talk (of course they do).

Mindful smartphones

From there I ended up reading about mindful phone use: Distracted in 2016? Reboot Your Phone with Mindfulness I can’t tell if the author Tristan Harris wears bamboo sweaters, but I do know that he used to be a Product Philosopher(!!) at Google.

His article is well worth the estimated reading time of 11 minutes and 28 seconds.  It has some simple tips on how to use your phone when you need to, and not be tempted by those shiny pretty colourful apps.

“We live in an Attention Economy. That means every app and website … is trying to get you to come back and spend more time. Companies literally have teams of people called Growth Hackers, whose job is to invent new reasons (notifications) and new persuasive tactics to bring you back.”

I don’t think that we are weak or stupid, but there are just much smarter people whose jobs are to keep us app-happy and alert-addicted.

Lessons learned

  1. We have limited capacity to pay attention. Technological fun is unlimited. It’s not a fair fight, so we have to try harder.
  2. If you use frog legs instead of dolphin kicks while doing butterfly arms , the swimming teacher gets annoyed.
  3. I was right to turn off my email, app and phone notifications. Last night, my husband had an enjoyable drink with my boss because I was finishing something in the office and hadn’t seen his messages. The world didn’t end, and I joined them a bit later.
  4. Job titles are much more interesting than they used to be.


Here’s one I wrote earlier

Using tech for good, not evil. I was running a little quiz and a guy made a joke about looking up answers on his phone.

Slightly ranting about kids, technology, good and evil. I can’t decide. Internet = evil cesspit of narcissistic idiots chatting to gambling-addicted paedophiles? Or Internet = global community of inspiring humanity sharing knowledge and joy?

Make your own laptop I was in one of those over-priced Belgian cafes, filled with equal quantities of rustic wooden furniture and jars of chocolate spread.

Make your own laptop

I was in one of those over-priced Belgian cafes, filled with equal quantities of rustic wooden furniture and jars of chocolate spread.

Next to me was a smartly dressed family. On a rustic wooden breakfast table, they were occupied thusly:

  • Dad – with iPad resting on muesli bowl.
  • Mum – on iPhone, with salad bowl of coffee.
  • Toddler in high chair – with iPod resting on ridiculous gourmet salt shaker.

They were probably content and well-fed. To me, they looked like 3 people who were killing time until newer, slightly thinner versions of the other family members are available at the Apple store.

Digital death

I spend a lot of energy ‘saving’ my kids from dying an early digital death. As the title of my blog suggests, I’m trying really hard to make sure their lives are not ruled by technology.

I am failing.

My children used to make magnificent craft. Behold a scale model of the Great Wall of China.

Great wall of china in clay

The great pile of …

Now, to compensate for the fact that I am depriving them of electronic wizardry, this is what they create:

the homemade laptop

Can you tell it’s the Windows startup screen logo?

And most impressively, there’s a Logitech mouse to go with the paper laptop.

the homemade mouse

Logitech’s latest prototype mouse.

This came back from a school holiday club:

the homemade mobile

The screen is a bit small, but it’s got an incredible battery life.

And our little animal friends frolic in a forest of cables and keyboards.

little creatures in cables

The perfect place to hang out.

I will continue to paddle weakly against the tsunami of digital stuff. I have my inflatable armbands, and kid-proof passwords on all my devices.

Here’s one I wrote earlier

Slightly ranting about kids, technology, good and evil. I can’t decide. Internet = evil cesspit of narcissistic idiots chatting to gambling-addicted paedophiles? Or Internet = global community of inspiring humanity sharing knowledge and joy? Depends on which parent I am talking to …

Things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Here are some things I say to my kids that my mum never said to me. Modern parenting just seems a little more complicated these days …

Games I play


Downloaded my second iPhone app this week – Scrabble. (The first was Twitter, because I feel like I really should be tweeting more, but can’t quite think what to write.)

I love it. Since I have always had a passion for words, writing and reading, Scrabble is a joy for me. Unfortunately, my almost-husband has no interest in it. The kids are not quite literate enough yet, and a game with them would probably involve explaining why we don’t stick Scrabble tiles in the toaster.


I envy people who have:

  1. the time to do crosswords
  2. the self-control to not look up every third answer on the Internet
  3. a partner who doesn’t think that crosswords should only be printed on novelty toilet paper.

I feel especially jealous when I see romantic couples without children having leisurely brunches over the weekend super brain crunching cryptic crosswords.

Brought to you by the InterWeb – Extra wide toasters

I don’t know why you would want a toaster that can toast for 2 hours, but here it is http://www.toasterovensguide.com/black-and-decker-cto6301-toaster-oven.htm

Usability of clever toilets and iPhones

The restaurant was modern, smart and friendly. The toilets were modern, smart and baffling. It took me quite a while to figure out how to turn the taps on. I cautiously waved my hands around, pressed a few metal discs, and even tried stepping on parts of the floor (I have been fooled by foot-operated taps before).

The first picture below shows the magical mystery sink. The second photo shows the smart-arse ‘tap’ in action.

Clever wash basin with hidden taps

clever wash basin with water

I was very pleased that I worked it out, without having to seek assistance. Why did the bathroom experience designer, or whatever they are called, make something very practical and necessary – washing hands, so difficult?

The intuitive and smug iPhone interface

When I became an iPerson, my brother assured me that it was all very simple to use. I just needed to play with it. I’m reinforcing a gender stereotype, but I would have preferred an old-fashioned user manual, not just a little leaflet telling me how simple everything is. All the blokes I know with iPhones seem very happy to spend hours fiddling away figuring out just how many cool things they can do. Learn through play.

Between kids, work, friends and household duties, I haven’t found many opportunities to stroke the iPhone and marvel at it’s attractive design. As a result, I still haven’t moved far beyond the basic mobile functions – make and receive calls, browse websites, make notes, use the calculator… I haven’t even downloaded an app!

My iPhone shines smugly at me: “You are not quite worthy of my glossy features and seamlessly smooth lifestyle enabling functions.”

Brought to you by the Interweb – iPhone crochet craft
I love crochet – by other people, not me. I want someone to make me a crochet iPhone toy.

I am an iPerson

Oops. I have an iPhone.

Not long after my smug anti-iPhone post ‘It’s not real until it’s an iPhone app‘, I have become an iPerson. We had a series of internal family phone swaps:

  1. My sneaky brother convinced our mum that he would make better use of her new iPhone. (Well, she wasn’t using it properly anyway …)
  2. Our mum has gone back to her non-i phone.
  3. I have my brother’s old iToy. (As he warned me, the battery is crap, and I think he dropped it in water somewhere… But I’m not fussy.)
  4. My almost-husband has my old non-i phone.

So, I don’t hate it. My typing/tapping has improved slowly. I like the swiping and swooping of the screen.

I still don’t think I NEED it, but as expected, I am browsing the web a lot more than I used to, just because I can. And I haven’t even begun to investigate downloading apps yet.

Brought to you by the Interweb – fingerprints from your ears

As I marvelled at the amount of ear grease left on my iPhone, I wondered if we could use our unique earprints to replace PINs and passwords. I found out that scientsts have been researching ‘acoustic fingerprints‘ as a way to add security to phones.

It’s not real until it’s an iPhone app

No, I don’t have an iPhone. My mother has one*, but I don’t. They are very pretty, but I don’t quite see the point. Not yet. Because my mobile is only OK-but-not-great for web browsing, I don’t do it much. Key times for web browsing so far have been:

  • waiting for a train
  • waiting for my husband who is in the hardware store, whilst I sit in the car with sleeping kids
  • waiting for the bank teller to methodically stamp his/her bits of paper and open/shut drawers.

I am very attracted to the iPhone’s clean, modern look. If I buy one, I am sure I will use it a lot, and then wonder how I coped without it. Until then, I am happy to not know what I am missing.

*My mother only uses her iPhone to make and receive calls, so I wouldn’t say that she is fully exploring the rich and varied world of Internet goodness with it. However, she does look very contemporary.

My iPhone observations

Many of the cool iPhone features are cool because they look like the real-life (non-digital) thing they are simulating.  When the early-adopters cradled their new itoys in their palms and displayed their latest purchases, they showed me calculators that looked JUST LIKE a real calculator; pinball games that looked JUST LIKE real pinball games ; maps that looked JUST LIKE real maps ….

Why are physical things just automatically cooler when they become digital? Why is one of the definitions of online coolness, how Real it looks?

I can not quite get the hang of the touch screen for typing. I felt very silly because I was typing like a unco-ordinated fish, if a fish was wanting to send a text message. Previous studies have shown that the iPhone keypad is less efficient than physical QWERTY keypads, so I’m not alone.

Brought to you by the InterWeb – clever animals in labs

At the University of Vienna, they have a department of Cognitive Biology. They have pigeons, clever dogs, and even tortoises in their fascinating labs.

New iphone app – Mind the milk?

Before we had a microwave, we used to have a small saucepan for heating up milk. We poured the milk into the saucepan, turned on the stove and waited for the milk to heat up. I remember having to be really careful not to miss that split second when the milk changed from a calm white pond to a bubbling cauldron of unhappy calcium.

I am not bemoaning the lost art of milk-warming up. I could not imagine living without the convenience of the microwave. As an equation, “freezer + microwave = happy working mother”. However, I do find myself operating in ESMT zone (Eastern Standard Microwave Time). In ESMT, 45 seconds is a long time in which to produce a balanced family dinner.

Microwaves allow me to rush around the kitchen conjuring up meals in minutes. But sometimes I miss the excuse to slow down and watch the milk. Virtual bubblewrap has been around for ages, so could this be the next iPhone app – Mind the milk? You heard it first here …

Brought to you by the InterWeb – Virtual bubble wrap

I found the official Bubble Wrap site, set up by the manufacturer Sealed Air Corporation. Aside from the virtual Bubble Wrap game (tucked away in the “bubblewrapfun” area) Bubble Wrap had a birthday this year and, of course, you can become a facebook fan.

I wonder what lucky bubble-happy person looks after this site?