Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Parents shouldn't need "apps" to parent

By my own admission, I am not the most disciplinarian of parents, but I do think I know where lines need to be drawn.

The phrase "today's kids" is one that is bandied about quite freely, almost as an excuse in some cases for misbehavior or ill discipline, and while the world has certainly changed since I was in shorts, certain home truths should remain constant (like listening to parents).

I started writing this blog entry when I came across a new iPhone app called "DinnerTime". I'm an avid tech follower and am game to learn about and try new apps, but this one really irked me .. in fact, it made me quite angry!

The function of the app? You program into your child's phone meal times and it prevents them using the phone at such times.

The app co-founder wrote: I’ve noticed that my children find technology to be addictive at times, playing games or watching videos on their tablets or phones, and are easily distracted by their devices at dinner time and bed time. This gave me the idea for DinnerTime, as I wanted to create something that could help my children focus on other activities, and we could enjoy quality time together.

Now I confess that my kids love their screens. I don't particularly have an issue with that, but like everything, they should be used in moderation and they should understand and respect parental rules that are set. For us, a certain amount of screen time is allowed on weekdays and a certain amount on weekends. Phones are charged at night time in the family room (not in the bedrooms) and they are not allowed to be used in the car on short journeys and absolutely never at the dinner table.

The way we implement these rules at home is the old fashioned way ... using words.

I find it simply abhorrent that any parent would need an app to forcefully shut down their child's phone at the dinner table because they cannot do it with words.

I think its "today's parents" that are different ... taking an easy route like this keeps a future generation on a downward societal trend with an inability to look up and engage with other people.

Monday, June 9, 2014


I watched a great series last month ... The Men Who Built America.

Learning about a handful of American industrialists who revolutionised their country and the world was fascinating. A mixture of good fortune, timing and no shortage of courage and ability built the basis for an economy that would dominate the world for more than a century, but would also create some fortunes that are unmatched to this day.

While watching these programmes, one set of developments, or perhaps coincidences, was more striking than any other.
In the late 1800's, John D Rockefeller took control of the early railroads in America. This was necessitated by his need for a delivery system for the product his Standard Oil company produced. It was in an era before cross country pipelines existed.

With Standard Oil company,  Rockefeller controlled the nations source of artificial light, Kerosene, and this was put under severe threat by the invention of electricity. As Thomas Edison invented the light bulb and powered it by Direct Current (DC), his apprentice, Nicola Tesla was concerned about the safety of DC and went on to develop Alternating Current (AC) electricity generators and grids, which is what we still use today.

Nicola Tesla
Tesla's AC changed the world and posed a serious threat to Standard Oil's kerosene business. Never one to give up without a fight,  Rockefeller looked at ways to combat this threat. While not a direct solution, Rockefellers search within an industry he already controlled led him to find a practical use for gasoline, previously a discarded waste product from oil refining. He found that it's highly flammable and unstable constitution proved to be its forte, and with this fuel, the internal combustion engine was born.

Originally used in heavy machinery to power engines,  it's demand reached insatiable levels when applied to the horseless carriage,  or "car"!

A century or so later, we live in an age where the automobile has changed our world, but we are at a stage where the environmental damage being caused by internally combusted cars is demanding a "cleaner" solution. Queue Elon Musk,  founder of the most revolutionary electric car company on the planet (My Tesla review).

Rockefeller versus Tesla all over again!