Is parting such Tweet sorrow?

Lytham Facey, 9, gets a helping hand from brother Iestyn, 6

Lytham Facey, 9, gets a helping hand from brother Iestyn, 6

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Could you cope without your computer, or iPod, or mobile phone, facebook or twitter? That’s the challenge we set two young local people for three days? Jacqui Morley reports.

There’s BC and the Other BC – before computers.

Stacey Houldsworth

Stacey Houldsworth

Lytham Facey, nine, of Blackpool, doesn’t remember those days. He was born in an age when kids pack nano technology to see their nans.

His beloved gran, who passed away last September, left instructions for money to be set aside to buy Lytham techie treats – Kinect and iPod.

“She used to watch me play,” he admits. “Sometimes she joined in. She helped me a lot.”

Lytham, who attends Arnold School, admits: “I suppose I am a bit obsessed. I spend about three hours a day on my iPod. Especially if I get stuck on a game.”

When challenged to give up his iPod for three days, his initial reaction was “no way.”

Then he gave it serious thought. “I didn’t think I could do it. I knew it was going to be really hard. But I didn’t want to miss the opportunity.”

The Arnold schoolboy was on holiday and had football, swimming, cricket and golf lined up.

But he also upped his offline game voluntarily. “I’m not a massive telly watcher, but decided not to choose what to watch.

“For three days I didn’t go on my new iPod, Wii, XBox or Kinect. The iPod was the toughest. I go on before school, in the car, and after school.

“My gran bought me Kinect for the XBox and Star Wars – I love Star Wars . I also like Lego on Wii.

“The night before, I spent an hour less on the Wii and iPod to get myself into it.

“I thought of staying up till midnight, but mum wouldn’t let me. I usually sneak a go first thing but had a nice half hour lie-in instead.

“I had football and swimming straight after, then cricket. I also went to my grandad’s after another nice lie-in and he recorded Batman for me.”

Little brother Iestyn, six, took pity. “He asked if I wanted to watch him play Angry Birds so I did but didn’t join in.”

Lytham’s toughest time came at his mum’s hotel.

“Ann, who works there, normally lets me play games on the computer. Instead I played with little Transformers. I haven’t played with them in ages. They’re good! I’m glad I never threw them away.

“Dad says I’m a real hoarder. I played with other toys too.”

Lytham was reunited with his iPod three days later.

He said: “It didn’t feel any different. I’d missed it, but find it easier to spend less time on it. I am better at having breaks. I would find it much harder to give up football, cricket, or swimming.”

A survey of 1,000 parents by Netmums.com reveals 40 per cent of parents worry about the time children spend on the internet.

Health experts also fear a link between rising rates of childhood obesity and computer games.

But are adults becoming online slaves to their slave drivers?

Gazette work experience journalist Stacey Houldsworth, 25, of Blackpool, thinks so – but still accepted the challenge.

“I’ve been willing to do most things The Gazette has thrown at me in the last six months, but this was the big one.

“I was challenged to live without a high-tech must-have for three days. I chose the internet. I socialise, watch TV, email, purchase, research, job search, organise multiple bills, play games and generally nosey at other people’s lives online.

“I work unsociable hours, so the internet allows me to catch up on what I have missed.

“Three days didn’t seem like a lot, but it was for me.

“I dreaded missing Eastenders on iPlayer, and being unable to untag any unflattering pictures taken at last week’s wedding.”

Stacey kept an offline diary. Day one: “Cope pretty well. Long shift at work helps. Home by 8.30pm and compensate for online time by packing as moving house. Watch some telly. Have an itch to check emails and Facebook but I can’t – I can get past this!”

Day two: “Almost forget first thing, wake up, reach for laptop, turn it on, then remember. Gutted. What can I do to take my mind off it?

I’d be catching up on TV missed the previous night and messaging friends. I don’t have work until 2.30pm, so need to kill morning boredom and there’s only so much daytime TV I can take.

I need to check my bank balance, for bits and bobs to buy for the new house, so walk to the nearest cash point. I learn my lines for a play I’m in (Camelot at Lowther Pavilion) and do the laundry: things I’ve put off doing.”

Day three: “Day off so harder than ever to stay off the net. I don’t know what’s going on in the world. I read the majority of news online, so buy a paper to catch up.

Go to town to take my mind off things. At rehearsal that night, but by 10.30pm nothing to do. Nothing on TV, too late to start cleaning. Bored and restless. Find some old magazines and read them. Sleep in the knowledge it will all be over tomorrow.”

Day four: “Grab laptop, log into emails. Nothing life-changing but feel better they have been checked. Log into Facebook, find lots of notifications, messages and no sign of being tagged in ‘ugly’ photos.

“Finally check my bank balance and other bills.

“My world feels complete again.”