Put Down that Phone – Please!

When I headed off to college my mom had two ways of connecting with me. 1) She could call me in my dorm room, and if the planets were properly aligned, she’d get me on the phone. 2) A letter. How did we survive?
Today’s parents have a plethora of electronic ways to “stay connected” with their kids at any given moment of any given day. Thing is, it takes persistence and practice to successfully back off.
Moms and dads can be seen pushing strollers with one hand and chatting on their cell with the other. I wonder. Is that phone call really that important? Probably not. What about the simple act of bonding with our children? Talking, pointing out flowers and birds, the cool cloud formations and the “other” parents pushing their kids in strollers while talking on their cell phones.
Sure there’s no laws preventing us from hanging with our little ones with a phone in our ear and there shouldn’t be, yet somehow I raised two well-adjusted kids and made a point of not letting life’s electronic interruptions get in our way. How did we survive? Okay, you got me. Cell phones weren’t around much when my kids were young, only car phones and the occasional bulky, portable NASA tested, shoulder harnessed talking device that gave one the feeling of real coolness.
Today, it’s easy to tweet, twitter, email, text and talk to one another 24/7. The real challenge for us is to stay connected the old fashioned way-talking face to face. Sound yucky? Feeling a bit cheated? Human communications have taken huge leaps in the past 20 years. It’s difficult but not impossible to step back, put the phone down and interact with our loved ones the old fashioned way-talking. They deserve our undivided attention.
Enough for now. My dog, Jazz is staring at me looking for attention and some serious scratching behind his ears. Gotta go!

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10 Responses to “Put Down that Phone – Please!”

  1. Annalee says:

    I agree. While technology is great, there is a time and a place for it. Children need to feel like they are being heard, validated, and respected and it’s hard to do that when the parent isn’t giving them the time and attention they need because of technology. Kids are only little once and teenagers are reluctant to share anything with parents, so put the phone down and listen to what kids have to say. We can learn a lot about kids just by spending time with them and developing a genuine unconditional relationship with them. The only way to do that, is to provide them with quality time. Their memories should be of the bond they have with their parents, the talks, the laughs, the tears, what they learned from their parents, etc…not the lost opportunities….that their parent(s) were too busy on the cell, computer, ipad, etc to get to know them as a person. Scott, as always, well done!

  2. Sandy says:

    Oh, I am on the “put down that phone ” band wagon, too, Scott!
    Although, I must admit, I have been guilty of having mine phone out (while with friends!), at times – mind you, just for receiving my kid’s “check-in” texts or calls!
    I do have to say, it sure is nice to be able to know (via text or a quick call) that someone has gotten somewhere they were going, safely. Less anxiety, all around.
    However, I do feel that technology has taken the place of face-to-face interaction, and that’s a shame. I’ve found that texts and emails can be misinterpreted very easily. And even phone calls mask the non-verbal communication our brains rely on for cuing. There’s nothing like a one on one conversation, and that, I’m afraid, will soon be a lost art.
    Face to face conversation may go the way of letter writing. (Not referring to email here, for those born after 1990. Just, so you know, in case your are reading this, and you were born after 1990: People would, actually, put pen to paper and then send these “letters” via the USPS (that’s the United States Postal Service). Then we’d wait a week (sometimes two) for our letter to reach our recipient. And then wait another week or two (or three) for a reply. Seriously.) But, then again, when we made phone calls out of area, or state – referred to as “long distance” – it cost four times as much as a “local” call.
    Times have changed. And even though there are great advantages to all this technology, nothing can replace having an actual conversation, especially with our kids and loved ones.
    I’m hoping this new generation finds person to person conversation as a cool “retro” thing to do and put down their phones!

  3. Mary says:

    Funny to read this because I just saw a woman pushing a stroller talking loudly on the phone while her little one was trying to get her attention. I think when you are on a walk with your kid, you should devote yourself to him or her. We live in a fast-paced world with lots of demands. There are times when all parents shortchange their kids a little bit because you have other stuff that needs your attention, but to just ignore them completely for a phone call is negative. Conversely when they get older & move away, a little distance can be good. Life is such a balnce, isn’t it?

  4. Gina says:

    Hallelujah!!
    I like how you think.
    My nieces love sleepovers at Auntie Gina’s. I love them, too, because their phones and iPads go into their overnight bags the second I pick them up!

  5. Lori says:

    I totally agree Scott, especially now that I am a Grandma. I just want to spend time with my grandson, giving him all of my attention without unnecessary distractions. Like you said the children are only small for a short while and we need to make the most of it. The cell phone is good to have when you need it for “important” connections — otherwise a time and place for everything.

  6. Richard says:

    I believe that Albert Einstein had addressed this very issue when he stated : When we become proficient with and obsessed with technology, we will be raising generations of idiots”(duly paraphrased).
    Due to the force of daily stress, I find myself drifting off into thinking about business etc. when I am with my daughter, even playing catch or swimming etc. I had resolved to be more”in the moment” or “present” when I am with her. It is difficult. So I cannot imagine how out of it those people who are constantly on their phones-regardless of who they are with. I find it to be a crime that they can’t stop enjoying the narcissitic delusion that they are more important than anyone else, even their children, such that they need to be constantly available for the errant haphazard intrusions of calls and texts. What could be ( short of a real physical, life threatening emergency, more important than your children and your focusing on them rather than on your schedule, etc.?

  7. Heidi says:

    I agree! I actually felt badly for a dog that was trailing behind their person at the park while she walked ahead taking on her phone.

    Seems to have been theme last week. Be engaged, live in the moment, listen to others. For me, it is taking the electrinics away from my child and working with her on her social development. It helps me to better understand her true needs in those types of scenarios, how she best takes directions, how to keep her focused, taking more time to explain the meaning if words or games.

    On the job front, my biggest problem as a virtual employee is multi-tasking on email, IM or texting on my cell while on conference calls. I just started shutting down my email, putting the DND on my IM and volunteering to take the minutes. That way I am forced to stay focused.

  8. Janice says:

    My six year old is full of energy and unfortunately, I am not. I try to stay tuned in with her but lack of energy and the fact that it is easier to talk on the phone is a way of life. So, I am guilty… I am thinking of game night, no tv, no phone just fun!

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  10. Kathy says:

    I totally agree with you. What’s wrong with parents (and for that matter kids) that they always have to be on their phones? I work at the Zoo and you’d be amazed at how many parents walk up to an exhibit talking on their cell phones while their children are left to look at and learn about the animals themselves. What a waste, when they could be sharing these wonderful experiences with their children. And while I’m at it, how about the people who are constantly texting while walking down the street, crossing streets, walking through stores – doing almost anything. They are just accidents waiting to happen. So sad.

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