Where’s my phone?

Young people live almost entirely on their phones these days so what happens when they lose it?

Group of teenagers looking at their phones


Where would young people be without their phones, I often wonder. Well, this week I got the chance to find out.  I had managed to drag only son and daughter two out of the house and away from the computer [in the case of only son] with the unlikely lure of a walk round the forest. I proposed it as ‘training’ for a sponsored walk we are going on in the autumn, although only son has said he is not coming and will meet us in a cafe at the end. So far, so good. We parked and headed into the depths of the forest. Daughter two paused near the start to take an obligatory selfie of her and an uprooted tree. Only son stopped to do something technical with my phone to show us where we were at the start of the walk and how we could get back to that point. He is well acquainted with my disastrous sense of direction.

We headed down the wide forest paths, chatting away about the election and the works of Stephen King. Only son has finally taken up reading. Even if it is only horror stories – admittedly well written ones – that he probably shouldn’t be reading, I am hailing this as success and hoping that he will find in reading some sort of space for reflection that is often lacking in today’s world, even if it is all about killer clowns. I’ve watched a back story Youtube thing on It and it seems a bit like Harry Potter, Pokemon, Hunger Games etc – an alternative reality with its own history and logic.

Suddenly, only son decided he wanted to divert off the beaten path into the trees and bushes. I remember commenting on how the leaf-covered floor felt a bit like a stage – but the drama was all to come. We followed only son without really looking where we were going. Twenty minutes later we discovered that daughter two’s phone had gone missing.

We retraced our steps, although we couldn’t remember where we went because we had simply followed only son and only son had had no idea where he was going. We went round and round. The good news is that it meant that we had definitely done some serious training for the sponsored walk. Daughter two consulted all sorts of locator apps, but the phone was on airplane mode so they didn’t work. At one point she downloaded some ‘cool’ US locator app which located her phone – in downtown Washington.

We retired home, defeated, and daughter two disappeared to her room in a fit of gloom. “Do you know any of your friends’ phone numbers?” I asked. “No” came the disconsolate reply. This was not promising because she is waiting to confirm accommodation for next year at university and her boyfriend is coming to stay next week [about which we are all very excited]. She also feared she had lost all her texts from daughter one.

I have spent many hours trying to get into daughter one’s phone only to be told that Apple’s ‘human rights’ policy means I can’t. That means I know every possible way of getting into a phone without the password. Unfortunately, if the phone is on airplane mode none of these work.

I checked my phone. It turned out that I had at least one of daughter two’s friends on my phone because she had messaged with their phone once, and they knew her boyfriend’s number. Time passed. Daughter two emerged from her room with her old phone [from five years ago], but she couldn’t remember her password. Surely, I said, she must use variations of the same password for most of her devices like most older people do. Nope – like her sister, she has been trained well to make her passwords fiendishly unguessable. She had to return the phone to factory settings then managed to download all her photos, Whatsapp and Snapchat. Thank God for the cloud.

The next day she and her sister went to search the forest again. Nada. I contacted the forest authorities, just in case someone had handed it in or might do so. Daughter two rang EE and ported all her information over to the new [old] phone as well as her old phone number. It has 5% battery so she is currently learning how to replace batteries. All in all, for a small object it has caused quite a lot of trouble because all life is now lived via a phone. One day, perhaps, our phones will be imprinted on our bodies and we will never be unconnected. But until then, as with all things, it’s important to have a back-up plan.

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