Real mates beat cyber chums

UGC columnist Jason Burke
UGC columnist Jason Burke
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We live in an age where technology is king.

Over 80 per cent of the population have an internet connection, and a mobile phone, and virtually every child under the age of 16 (if my experience is anything to go by), have some form of computer games console.

My son, your standard 14-year-old who loves his football and rugby league (season tickets for the Owls and the Eagles), has the Xbox 360 console and with it, access to the world of online gaming with his pals.

As a kid I grew up just as Sir Clive Sinclair was in his pomp, and I was a faithful disciple of the much famed ZX Spectrum “Squidgy Keyboard” computer.

I find that even today there is nothing better for relieving stress, than shooting aliens and scoring a 30- yard screamer when I can get to my son’s console for a few games.

But the disturbing thing for me and I’m sure for many other parents, is the relative lack of real-life interaction our kids have with each other on a social basis.

It seems the cyber age with Facebook, Twitter, and other mediums, has turned us all into “virtual” friends.

Add to that the horrible stories in the news headlines, and sometimes it almost comes as a relief that your kids prefer to stay indoors.

When I was a kid, straight after school I would catch the 52 bus up to Crookes and play for hours at “real-life” football with Shaun, Dave, Rob, Lee, David, and others from the area. We would play until it went dark, Wednesday v United in the Crookes Endowed School yard, scorelines of 35-31 were commonplace.

If not football, or cricket, the push bikes would be out for ay-trip bike rides out to the Peak District and beyond, hour after hour fishing in Wolf dam on the Rivelin Valley Nature Trail – the summer holidays seemed to last forever.

The number of days you spent alone and without your friends you could count on the fingers of one hand.

Now as an adult, six weeks are gone in the blink of an eye.

It seems kids today are more content with this impersonal “virtual friendship” world, they seem to lack much of the energy I remember back in the day, they are missing out on so much.

Oh no, I sound like my Dad now.