THE BLOG
23/05/2014 07:13 BST | Updated 21/07/2014 06:59 BST

The Generation Divide: Where Do We Draw the Line in an Always-On World?

It's all very well and good to be 'always-on' but it can be a real turn-off.

My husband and I recently decided to take a last minute break for a little R&R in the form of late season skiing (not the wisest choice - but that's another story). One evening we were sitting in a restaurant directly opposite a table of 3; Mum, Dad and Daughter. Mum and Dad clearly had Daughter rather late in life and, at the time, must have felt truly blessed. We were immediately struck by the fact that Daughter, aged around 20, was scrolling through the screen on her phone whilst eating her dinner - she had obviously mastered the art of placing food on her fork and shovelling it into her mouth without taking her eyes off her phone. This behaviour continued throughout the consumption of a pretty hefty portion of food and beyond.

Empty plates were whisked away by the waitress with a smile and thank you from Mum and Dad, but Daughter...you guessed, not even the slightest acknowledgement. Mum and Dad patiently tried to engage in some kind of conversation with Daughter who, whilst giving the occasional monosyllabic response and even a scowl or two, continued to scroll away without raising an eye, let alone both.

The bill was requested, drinks finished, more painful attempts to engage Daughter by Mum and Dad yet still she persisted to scroll away. Not once did she type anything or, thank goodness, actually speak to anyone just a continual scroll, scroll, scroll... Eventually Mum admitted defeat, rolled her eyes at Dad and looked utterly mortified and decided that perhaps silence was a better option. Finally when the owner arrived to ask how their meal was, Daughter finally looked away from her phone for a split second to acknowledge the owner. "Hurrah!" we cried! This success was sadly short lived as even walking out the restaurant; she was back glued to the screen and clearly had a sixth sense of how to exit the restaurant without having to look up.

I did wonder if Mum and Dad still felt blessed? We certainly didn't.

My last article was about Generation A where I highlighted an increasingly worrying trend of teenage addiction to technology but this experience took mobile phone activity and/or addiction to a whole new level.

Where do we draw the line and how do we instil in Generation A, and future generations, the ability to filter content so that it does not become all-consuming? They need to learn how to compartmentalise content - some content requires a direct response and some content simply allays their fear of missing out. All inconsequential content should be scrapped from the routine checking of the phone - filtered out. I'm sure like most of us, Mum and Dad felt all the content on Daughter's phone was completely inconsequential but who are we to judge?

However, regardless of age, this is about good old-fashioned manners and I can only hope that once away from the astonished fellow diners, Mum and Dad buried Daughter's phone in the snow or better still, threw it off the highest mountain!

I'd like to add another word to the meaning of Generation A: Aaaaaaagh!