The Danger of Screens

Blandine, from Wissembourg, France, thinks about the effects of computers on people. She works for one of France’s internet and telephone providers.


I would like to talk about a subject that is close to my heart: the effects of addiction to screens, whether computers or cellphones, on the lives of our children and grandchildren.

I often notice that many young parents, walking or wheeling their babies along in the street, are staring at their cellphones and ignoring their surroundings. They are out of touch with their surroundings.

Such children, unable to attract their parents’ attention, must feel neglected. Which effects could this have in future?

I have the feeling that these gadgets bring a dehumanizing reality. Social life, street life, attention to people and things have largely disappeared, at least in big cities.

On the other hand, with these gadgets, everything is public now, potentially one’s thoughts, one’s photos, one’s movements, one’s purchases. There is no privacy, no freedom anymore, people are using social media nonstop. People are trapped in a virtual world. They are never alone, never able to concentrate and to have their own feedbacks or opinions. 

Spending much time surfing the internet gives us access to much information, but that brings no knowledge and the personal memory isn’t solicited.

Facing screens too often is very bad for the development of the children’s brains. When they only stare at the screens because they are left alone, they have a lack of attention, creativity, manual skills and executive functions. 

They are out of touch with others and hear few words when the television is on, all day long. Consequently, their intellectual quotient decrease. The presence of screens in their bedrooms also disturbs their sleep. They don’t sleep enough, and this threatens the development of memory and learning. They become aggressive, impulsive. Because they practice no sports, they can become obese.

However, good practices can be put in place according to the age of the young child:

  • No screen in the bedroom
  • A supervision of the contents
  • To limit the duration of exposure to the screens
  • No screen before attending classes
  • To turn off the screen one and half an hour before bedtime
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A Trip to Italy

Pascal & Valérie describe their trip to the Dolomites in Italy.

In June we went to the Dolomites in Italy because is a good destination for bikers.

We drove and had our bikes on the trailer. The drive was too long. It took 9 hours to drive from home in France to Nova Levante. It rained the whole journey. We took the fastest route, which in Germany are the A8 and the A7 to Garmisch. There, we crossed the border into Austria and drove to Innsbruck and then crossed the border to Italy at the Brenner Pass. From there, we drove towards Bolzano.

We stayed in Nova Levante. It is a village near Bolzano and the Laggo di Carezza, about 40 km east of Bolzano. It is a very small village. You can eat and drink well there, go shopping and it is a good base for day trips.

We stayed in the Castle Latemar. It’s a small, family hotel and it has a restaurant / pizzeria. It is good value for money, the rooms are comfortable and clean, and we had half-board. (Room, breakfast & dinner.)

During your holiday, we went on day trips.

We drove to the Falzarego Pass which is at an altitude of 2105 metres. It is a beautiful and curvy route. We saw the peaks of the Dolomites. There is a small chapel and a cable car. At the top is a war memorial from the First World War. We left the hotel at 10 am and arrived at the pass at noon. We had a coffee and pastries. There is a small shop which sells souvenirs. The view of the mountains is spectacular. We returned to the hotel by 5 pm.

Another excursion was to the Laggo di Braies. It is about 100 km east of the hotel. It is a very beautiful lake, surrounded by mountains and is in a wide valley. We went for a walk and explored the place which was also a movie set for a film starring Terrence Hill. There was a horse stable, a boathouse and a chapel as well as a hotel for our traditional coffee and pastries.

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A Vineyard in Uruguay

What happens when you write an article in your native language and let it be translated by an online translator? When it comes to translating French and German into English, the results are 95% accurate. Jean-Pierre, and his English class, made an imaginary trip to Uruguay. Here is one of his imagined experiences, originally written in French and then translated using Google Translate.  

We are in MONTEVIDEO and this first afternoon is devoted to the visit of a vineyard and its cellar.

The place is called “Bodega Santa Rosa”, it is located on 2211 Cesar Mayo Guttierez in Montevideo.

For the sum of 78.50 €, a minibus picks us up at our hotel, then we leave for a visit of the vineyard and its cellar. To close this half day, we can taste the different wines produced by this property, then have our dinner in the room where the tasting takes place. At the end, we are taken back to the hotel.

The vineyard looks like the ones we see in the Bordeaux region and the grape varieties are the same.

We chose to visit the winery where the sparkling wine is made. Thousands of bottles rest on a sort of champagne rack, the cap down. These are stored in long tunnels cut into the rock. The walls are draped with a black mold that is necessary for the maturation of the wine. These corridors are provided with lateral cavities and illuminated by a central rail fixed to the ceiling.

A great impression of calm reigns here, the temperature is constant, and one can perceive a slight echo.

At the end of this first part of the visit, you must go to the tasting room.

It is a room quite imposing by its size. It is accessed by a monumental staircase covered with stone masonry. Besides, all the walls and pillars of the central aisle are of the same material. The ceiling, relatively high, is supported by beams of beautiful solid wood sections, resting on posts of the same ilk. The floor is covered with tiles whose pattern is different between corridors and rooms. Here, we find large cavities which expose enormous wooden barrels and other more modest ones, where bottles are stored, as well as bottles, laying on the side of the walls. At the foot of the stairs, on our right, a small wall marks a separation between the central aisle and the dining room.

An almost religious atmosphere reigns in these places due to the chosen materials and the lighting.

The vineyard can be found here

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Christmas in Safita, (Syria) by Mirna

Mirna is a an English teacher who lives in the town of Safita in Syria, close to the Mediterranean coast and about 240km north west of Damascus. She is Catholic, so Frank asked her about celebrating Christmas in Safita. She describes this from her own personal perspective.

Frank. What does Christmas mean to you?

Mirna. Very interesting question. Joy, happiness, family reunion and of course on the spiritual level, time to rethink again, forgiveness, love and meditate.

Frank. You send me some pictures of shop windows with decorations. How does a Muslim, living in Safita to, react to that?

Mirna. Muslims in Syria usually decorate Christmas trees and celebrate it with us.

Frank. I suppose the fundamental question is, what is it like to live as a Christian in an Arabic:/ Muslim country?

Mirna. Syria is not an extremist place. We celebrate Christmas in public and decorate a huge Christmas tree in the centre of the town and this tradition is not only in Safita. Muslims are aware of that. The Christians form an important layer in Syria. And Christians are not guests or a minority. We are builders of the Syrian civilization here. Faris al Khoury was a statesman in Syria. He was a Prime Minister and he gained Syrian independence. He was a very respected person by Muslims, because he announced Allah Akbar from the well-known Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, to prove to the French government that Muslims and Christians are in Syria are brothers. At least this is my understanding.

Photo Credit : Nahid N Dayoub. Christmas Tree in Safita.

Frank. Which day is more important? Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

Mirna. We don’t have Christmas Eve. It’s just the Christmas Day.

Frank.  Do Muslims recognise the birth of Jesus in any fashion of their own?

Mirna. Yes. We have another important thing related to Christmas and Jesus baptism called Al Khatas. But the story is different.

Frank. How?

Mirna. It’s on 6th January.

Frank. So closer to the Orthodox Christmas.

Mirna. The same day when the Coptic church celebrates Christmas according to the Oriental calendar. I think that Muslims follow the story of Al Quran. They don’t believe that Jesus is God and they don’t recognise between the two Marys in their culture. One of them is the Virgin Mary and the other called Maryam Bint Al Omran and this is one of the weaknesses in Al Quran. But, anyway, they consider him a great character and a prophet. And I think Muslims don’t mention that Jesus was born in a stable, but under a palm tree.

Frank. Back to the actual celebration on the 25th. What do you usually do on that day?

Mirna: On the 25th of December, bells ring in Safita, calling people to celebrate Christmas communion in church early in the morning. People light candles and pray to baby Jesus for peace and love all around the world. After that, people visit each other in their homes and families gathered at lunchtime. Santa Claus usually visits kids the previous night. Kids swear their best clothes and visit their grandparents, who hide very tasty chocolates and sweets for their grandchildren. Beautiful moment, Santa Claus, bells, lights are hung on the everlasting green tree and baby Jesus is in his cradle surrounded by Mary and Joseph, the “Majis” and their presents, lambs, shepherds and little children.

Frank: Is Christmas as commercialised as in Europe, despite the war?

Mirna: You’re right. Christmas in Europe is commercialised, and in Syria, despite the war, or in the Arab world in general, also to some degree.

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R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Niki, from Baku, takes a word and uses it as an acronym.
And makes us think about attitudes towards ourselves and others.

Give yourself some respect.  It is clear that, if we do not love ourselves, observe r.e.s.p.e.c.t towards ourselves, we fall into darkness, cannot remain positive and fail to understand why this is so. 

How about you give yourself some Rest, Encouragement, Space, Priorities, Education, Clarity and Time?

What exactly is respect? It’s the sense of worth or personal value that you attach to someone. In short, respect is a positive view that you form on how someone lives.  

In my opinion there are three kinds of respect. The first is self-respect, followed by respect towards others and finally, another person’s respect for you.  

However, have you thought about self-r.e.s.p.e.c.t.? 

To do something well, we need Rest, Encouragement and Time and Education. These are followed by Priorities and Clarity. 

All of these ingredients allow us to achieve our goals, our wishes, our desires. 

It is clear that, if we do not love ourselves, observe r.e.s.p.e.c.t towards ourselves, we fall into darkness, cannot remain positive and fail to understand why this is so.  

As you know there is a strong bond between human communication and self r.e.s.p.e.c.t. In today’s world, communication with others plays a vital role in human social life. It allows us to progress and develop. 

When a person sends a message and the other person listens and understands the message, a connection happens between them. This connecting process is beneficial to everybody.

If self r.e.s.p.e.c.t supports this connection the advantages of this process are that it can continue to develop individual and social success. 

As a result, self r.e.s.p.e.c.t. must be considered as a basis. Sometimes, if we fail to continue to be respected in a relationship, we can easily become submissive. 

At the same time, it is important to understand that there is no room for arrogance in a relationship, so we should draw a red line between self-respect and selfishness. Having a good and safe communication is a privilege. In other words when we lose our self r.e.s.p.e.c.t., we lose our r.e.s.p.e.c.t to others that both of them are resulted in poor communication. 

What do you think? Do you have any examples? Do you have any experience you can share?

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