Back in 1906, people were worried about this:
The caption read:
These two figures are not communicating with one another. The lady receives an amatory message, and the gentleman some racing results.
People romanticise the past. As if all people did in the past was sit around talking, totally present in each other’s company, never distracted. And kids do spend a lot of time on their phones etc, but you also still see kids down the beach. Or at the park. Or wherever that’s outdoors. Whether it’s less or more than before, who cares.
That cartoon’s from 1906 and just like today, people were bitching about some new thing that wasn’t around ‘back in my day’. They were worried it was going to isolate everyone from each other. And there’s stories of way earlier than that, from when books started becoming accessible to the average person, that people were beginning to worry kids were spending too much time with their heads buried in books.
A couple hundred years ago it was books, then it was the radio, then it was television, then it was video games, then it was the internet, then it was smartphones and in 20 or something years, it’ll be something else. Grumpy people will be saying, ‘Why cant these damn kids today just play on their smartphones like they did back in my day? Now all they do is (insert new thing here).’
We can complain about it. Or we can acknowledge every generation has its thing, and we can learn how to manage that thing so it doesn’t suck all our time, as well as the time of those ‘damn kids today’.