We're online and off track

I was 19 when I lost it, and it was bitterly disappointing. It happened in a Wellington bar after a series of shots called screaming orgasms. I was left wondering why it was so quick. It was like I blinked and suddenly it was gone. Seven years ago, for the first time, I felt the pain of losing my phone.

I'd kept it safe for years, my cherished Nokia 2280. You all know the ones I'm talking about. Our whole generation had them. The blue bricks couldn't be destroyed, even by a pack of drunken teenage boys with sparkler bombs.

I was 17 when I got my first phone, and you youngins today don't know how lucky you are.

Colour screens hadn't been invented, applications were something you attached to a CV, and there was no electronic secretary reminding you to take your happy pills.

Back in my day phones were for texting, playing Snake and throwing at people. It wasn't the end of the world if you lost them, unlike today.

I'm almost ashamed to say it, but after what I've overheard I've come to believe we now live in a society where losing your phone is a bigger deal than losing your virginity.

Gone are the days when virginity was the most prized thing a girl could have. If television, social media and movies are anything to go by then your virginity has an expiration date no longer than that of an American Pie, and the sooner it's gone, the better.

I recently overheard a conversation between two young girls. They must have been born around the same time as the iPod, but despite their age they were talking about who was sleeping with who, who is not cool enough to be sleeping with anyone and even how one friend's first time ''totally sucked because the guy stole her phone afterwards''.

You could have knocked me over with a feather.

The rest of the conversation was not about how their friend lost her virginity to an obvious douchebag, but rather how upset she was (and her parents would be) because she no longer had her ''hot new iPhone''.

When did it happen? When did losing your phone over-ride the importance of losing your virginity?

Phones have become an extension of our hands. My touch-screen phone, which cost more than my laptop, is my portable internet access, my alarm clock, my music player, my GPS system, my calculator, my diary, my camera, my photo album, my complete works of Shakespeare, my gaming console and my phone book.

When we rely so heavily on one piece of equipment, the seemingly single most important device we own, it's not surprising that when we lose our phone we feel like we have lost a piece of ourselves.

Is this fast-paced world, where everything is available in one device, forcing the next generation to grow up too fast?

We have handed cellphones to thousands of pre-teens and while they are busy learning to connect with people in the ether, did we forget to teach them that connecting with people physically is special?

It's so easy for them to send a text, so easy to log on to Facebook everywhere they go. We have brought them into the era of being meaningless and tied to everybody, all of the time, without teaching them to value genuine intimacy.

Connecting with the click of a button has become second nature, and yet kids, yes kids, are treating their first sexual experience as just another easy way to interface in this fast-paced, tech-savvy world that we live in.

It really does make me feel sorry for them. I know when you are a child you can't wait to grow up, so you want all the things adults have,  including gadgets and relationships. But I would happily exchange my emerging crow's feet for a second helping of childhood.

It's time for us to replace pre-teens' cellphones with skipping ropes and swap their sexual encounters for trips to the zoo.

The system has to be rebooted, because it will be a cold day in hell before I see my future daughter care more  about losing her phone than  her virginity.

● Modern Maiden has a giveaway today! To go into the draw to win two free tickets to the opening night of Little Theatre's latest production Hot Stuff (permalink http://www.littletheatre.co.nz/hot-stuff/) simply 'like' New Plymouth Little Theatre (permalink https://www.facebook.com/nplittletheatre) on Facebook, and send them a message saying ''Modern Maiden sent me''.  It's as easy as that!

The winner will be announced on Little Theatre's Facebook page on Monday.