Without a clock, how will kids know where to put their hands when they drive?

Years ago (and the subject will give you some indication of just how many years ago), I read a very well thought out theory hypothesizing that digital clocks with their disconnected numbers replacing of analogue clocks with their little hands and big hands would give people growing up with them a new and different concept of time.

Whereas people growing up with analogue clocks could see visual representations of how ‘a quarter to’ or ‘half past’ was actually related to fractions of an hour, digital clocks had no such indication. There is no immediately evident way of knowing that the day (or half day) is divided into 12 hours and each hour is divided into 60 minutes. A digital clock is literally just numbers.

The supposition was that children of  the digital clock era (Generation ‘D’?) would grow up with a previously unknown concept of time that would have all kinds of repercussions affecting every facet of life.

Far too heavy for me to think about now, but it did occur to me when someone gave me instructions today about where my arms should be when doing something and said “Just like driving: 10 and 2.”

I can only imagine that if a driving instructor said to a 16 year old today “keep your ams at 10 and 2” the kid would have no idea whatsoever what the instructor was talking about. Without having grown up with an analogue clock it must be about as meaningful telling them to dial a phone.

Here’s a good comment on the subject from an article about the changing concept of where your hands should be on a steering wheel (some say 9 and 3, some say 8 and 4):

Traffic cops say in recent years, another new position has gained considerable popularity. “Mostly, I see the left hand up on the wheel,” said San Jose officer Sepulveda, “and the other hand on a cell phone.”

Which also leads me to another random thought. The other day I heard a radio commercial with the sound effect of a record scratch to indicate something gone awry. What on earth would THAT mean to a 10 year old today?