The morning school run is becoming an interesting exercise in dodging children on the pavements. Why is this? You may well wonder. Here is my assessment of this activity that has become like playing Mario Kart.
From the moment we step out of the front door we are faced with a series of ever changing tracks, we have to learn new manoeuvring tricks and each day there is a different way to play out the journey between the house and the bus stop.
From houses all over the neighbourhood children step onto the pavements that are transformed by the magical touches of their tired feet into a virtual track. As they each reach for their phones, games console or iPods the danger begins.
They are transfixed by the screen. The rules say that they are only allowed to look up at people or traffic for a maximum of 5 seconds at any one time. Too much time away from the screen results in penalties of ‘uncool’ being transferred to their loosely carried backpacks. If they obtain a certain number of ‘uncool’ points they will have to enter the school gates with their shoes completely laced up, their ties done up to the collar, trousers worn on the waist with an effective (not just decorative) belt, and the backpack carried across the back on both shoulders (something that is regarded as normal – to anyone over the age of 25) instead of the falling off the single arm style.
Talking, texting, game playing, music ... all activities are permissible as long as the head is bowed and no eye contact is maintained with any other street users. Absolutely NO looking at trees or anything resembling natural surroundings is permissible. These last categories carry the most severe penalties.
On rare occasions (in extreme weather) fingerless gloves may be worn until out of range of parental stares, otherwise they must be discarded with alacrity into the mayhem within the backpack as soon as possible.
Today I realised that being on a different track (the road – as I was driving) was potentially more hazardous because these screen-to-school players are apt to step into oncoming traffic without looking up because
their 5 second glance tokens have all been used up within metres of their home while waiting for other players to arrive (friends?) – my observation is that when they walk and play in packs they are even more dangerous than in the single-player mode.
I really don’t like this daily game of life where all you see is ... screens.