Times they are a’changing

So little of this:

Waaaay too much this:

We are overwhelmed by how many families are using the cell phone as entertainment for the kids. During beach time. During meal time. To avoid conversations at meal time. To appease a squawking child. It’s quite unsettling. 

Breakfast Lunch and Dinner. Cocktail hour. Phones are out and plentiful. There are several large families vacationing here now, every last one using cell phones at mealtime. Last night for dinner we took a shuttle van over to The Sugar Mill Restaurant and one family on board with us had two small kids (ages 4 and 2’ish). The second we got on the bus the older one hollered Mom, hand me your phone. Mom did and for the six minute bus ride the child played some game on the phone, not once engaged by a parent. No one said no. No one said Look out the window and see the palm trees. 

Another family at the restaurant with three kids (looked like ages 11,10, 8) were sequestered at the far end of the table from the six adults. At no time did one adult engage the kids in conversation so the kids found ways to amuse themselves. Using the phone flashlight to climb stone steps in and around the restaurant, not staying at the table. The adults didn’t care one hoot. It was so sad. 

Not to brag, but my kids are amazing conversationalists. They know how to engage. They can sit with anyone at any time. Do you know why they are so great? 

Because I raised them to participate. They sat in the middle of family gatherings. They were not given any opportunity to leave the table or sit together and only talk amongst themselves. And this was from early on. They were asked questions. They were engaged and learned to listen and ask questions. Funny how that works, when parents spend time talking to children. 

We are so disheartened to watch the cell phone as babysitter scenario play out over and over here. But the parents are as guilty, if not more, by bringing several phones to the meal in the first place. This is vacation. Leave the damn phones in the room. Look at the water. Pick up shells. Learn about the fish. Learn about the palm trees. Do something, ANYTHING, but put down the phone. 

End of rant. It’s a gorgeous morning. I was up early and watched the sun rise and the birds swooping down into the water for their breakfast. 

7 thoughts on “Times they are a’changing

  1. Your observation raises a lot of questions in my mind.
    What nations have the most obsessive cellphone generation?
    How did the princess phone morphed into this status?
    Is this the old generation looking askance at the new reality?
    I guess the one thing you can’t experience on the phone is climate. Hence your fellow vacationers.

    1. To our eye, the cellphone obsession runs the spectrum of nationalities. There are Asian families here. Middle Eastern. Americans from all parts of the USA. I don’t see any distinction.
      In the 1960s, I had a pink princess phone in my room growing up so your point is a good one.
      As for us old generation looking askance at the new reality, yes, I suppose there’s some of that. But I’m a huge techie, raised by a techie dad, so it’s not the technology I object to. There is plenty of time for kids and learning/using laptops and cell phones. Just not on vacation. Nothing can replace real conversations.

  2. You have hit on one of the pet peeves in our family, which in the broader sense is electronics as babysitter and pacifer for all ages. We see so many mothers (not nannies who are worse) walking their children in a stroller and on their cell phone having some inane conversation the whole time, rather than engaging the child on some/any level. So many parents seem ok with children retreating to their room to watch TV or play on screens rather than converse as a family. I get that when both parents work they are tired when they come home and want to relax themselves, but c’mon.

    Tom Friedman’s new book Thank You For Being Late, which I listened to half of on the drive to FL says all of this grew from 2007 when the iPhone was introduced, and which in turn enabled so many others to build content for that platform. These days I find Friedman to be a pompous windbag, but he is probably on to something here.

    It comes down to choices and so many people seem to choose the path you point out. Hopefully, not everyone. In our house, it is a big no no for anyone to pull out a cell phone at the dinner table.

    1. Let me be perfectly clear. Our adult children are horribly addicted users of cell phones but do draw the line with their kids. I’m moderately addicted. At Christmas though, all together, it was remarkable (and not in a good way) that my mother, the only one without a smart phone, had to lay down the law for all of us.

      As for having hope, we were heartened at breakfast today to see one family immersed in conversation. Yay!
      I’m not sure I could buy the Thomas Friedman book. Windbag is too kind, so thanks for your quotes from it.

  3. Key word in the comments above is “addictive.” If you ever have the chance to the see the documentary film “Screenager,” you can see how these electronic devices are changing how our kids’ brains (and ours) work — and not for the better.

    1. I don’t even know if it’s just teenagers who are addicted. I see one heck of a lot of adults glued to their phones. Checking this and that every few minutes. Texting. Making calls.
      I’ve never heard of the documentary but I’ve noted it for when we get home. Thanks.

  4. “We are so disheartened to watch the cell phone as babysitter’ Damn! I had no idea that would hit me so hard…
    But it’s true and I was just writing about how I feel we are not maturing fast enough into adulthood/maturity as a generation because we are too confined in our worlds and in our bubbles; a lot of times our cellphones are the center of our lives, if we lose or cell phones we can’t survive…
    These are dangerous times and I’m really worried about how Generation Z will fear 10-15 years down the line.

    — Blessings

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