I had a little chuckle to myself while watching telly recently. An ad for a new car claimed to have resolved the "back seat battle".
The ad showed a boy and a girl in the back of a car pushing and shoving and then — hey presto — in the new car they sat in luxury with the wind (beautiful air conditioning, I guess) blowing the girl's hair back and the boy — yes you guessed it -with a device in his hand that was charging in a special little place in the back seat.
See how long that lasts, I thought. Heads down a on long trip, especially if the road is windy, is not a good idea. A bucket might be more helpful than a charger.
But that's just one drawback of "plugging" children in when travelling.
Yes, long road trips can be boring for children and stressful for parents. But in today's world of parents rushing off to work and children going to after-school care, travelling by car is one of the few times a family spends time together in such close proximity.
Long road trips are times for games, not screens.
I remember counting cars. My brother would have one colour and I would have another. Or we would count horses. He and one of my parents would have one side of the road, (depending who was sitting where) and I would have the other side with the other parent.
Yes, we squabbled. Yes, we constantly said " are we there yet?" and, yes, we asked if we could stop for an ice cream — that's all part and parcel of a road trip.
The ice cream stop usually only happened on our Sunday drives to Napier when we would be so happy to have a Mr Whippy, if we were lucky we would get hundreds and thousands on it.
In turn, my children fought and squabbled in the back on our numerous trips from Dannevirke to Hastings and back.
No seatbelts and a child sitting in a canvas seat hooked over the front bench seat.
I shudder to think what would have happened if there'd been an accident.
We didn't have one, luckily, but I remember how scary it was on one trip witnessing an accident right in front of us.
It was Christmas day and the car ahead went into the shingle on the side of the road. Next thing we knew it was skidding and then it flipped and landed in a paddock beside the road.
The boot flew open and all these plastic plates, clothes and presents went flying.
The crash was terrifying to see, I can't imagine how frightened the occupants were.
We stopped, of course, and so did loads of other motorists, including a doctor. Thank goodness no one was seriously injured. It was a very quiet drive after that.
Anyway, I digress — what I am actually trying to say is that playing Eye Spy, singing, making up silly songs, counting horses and cars and looking out the window at our beautiful countryside is a far better option than looking down at a screen.
Yes, it can be stressful but it can also be fun. There is plenty of opportunity for screen time these days but not a lot of family time so we need to make the most of it.
• Linda Hall is assistant editor of Hawke's Bay Today