One of the saddest things I saw once was a whole family out to dinner, and both the parents and the two children did not say one word to each other during the whole meal. All four were on their phones, texting or playing games. A toddler in a high chair looked at her family, probably wishing she had a cell phone too.
This scene has replicated itself many times over. Just this past weekend, HoneyBunch and I went out to dinner and the couple next to us spoke more to the waitress than they did to each other. Neither took their noses out of their phones long enough to make sure they knew the other person.
Cell phones are handy little gadgets and I cannot leave the house without mine. It is as important as my wallet and my car keys and I carry it in my purse, but once I am home I set it down where I can see it or hear it in case someone calls but I am not anchored to it.
My kids get upset with me if I do not answer my cell phone right away, but I tell them that I am not leashed to it and I often dare to wander far away from it.
I doubt those who invented this technological wonder ever intended the anthropological dilemma that it has, but by providing a gadget that demands so much of our time and reverence, it threatens the family, culture, and society. It steals precious time we should be interacting with each other and focuses it onto a phone.
I say we should
1. limit their use at our dinner tables, during homework, reading, or family hours. We should put away our phones on car rides or trips, and I see no reason why a child should keep a phone by their bed after bedtime;
2. set parental controls on what our children can access or how long they can use their phones;
3. observe basic rules of etiquette about phone use at school, at church, during meetings, at the movies, and during formal performances where a cell phone interrupts the enjoyment of the show for others. Phones should be turned off or muted during these times.
These are smart phones all right.
Instead of us using them, they are the ones in charge. They lure us with music, books, games. We use up all our precious time, dependent on them. Instead of extending the reach of our communication arm, we are held fast to it. Instead of taking a good look around us, talking to those near us, and enjoying the wide expanse of nature, we are held fast, peering at a tiny gadget welded to our hands.