Children and Cell Phones

By: Brandy Black

Are you reading this from your phone right now?  Did your date go to the bathroom? Rather than soaking in the beauty, you want to look busy, keep yourself entertained.  Look around.  Is everyone on their phone, computer, tablet, ipad?  Do you find yourself handing your iphone to your kid to play another game just to keep them quiet for the second half of dinner?  I’m tired of it.  I’m part of the masses.  I sat at dinner tonight with a baby in one hand downloading an app for my 4-year-old in the other just to keep her happy so that I could finish my conversation with the in-laws.  I hate that we live in a world where being without your phone feels like you are leaving the house with no clothes on.  I work in technology, I’m surrounded by it, I see the benefits, but at some point it’s just too much.  My wife and I were in Vegas recently and walked past a group of teenagers sitting in a circle in the lobby of the Wynn Hotel and all of them, every single one, was on their phone, hunched over probably texting each other!  I’m tired of hearing the dinging and the buzzing around me while people obsessively check their texts, what is so important that you can’t sit through a meal and have a conversation without that damned device in your hands?
I worry about the next generation.  Will they even speak?  They literally don’t part with their phones.  I watched a teenager at a frozen yogurt place the other day walk three steps to get her bowl, stop, text, walk a few more steps, grabbed bowl, stop, text, pick her flavor, stop, text, get  a spoon, laugh at phone and text again.  It’s unreal how addicted they are to communicating through broken words.

I worry that my children won’t have the ability to be bored.  What’s so wrong with boredom?

I saw The Amazing Spider-Man (great movie by the way) on Friday night.  Although it was a sold out evening, I didn’t have to wait.  I walked straight to my assigned seat at the Arclight.  I chose my seat on the computer hours before, scanned the ticket from my phone, and watched the movie with no delays.  But when I was a kid (I hate using phrases like this, it clearly makes me a parent, an aging one at that), I waited for big blockbuster movies on opening night, with my family, sometimes for over an hour.  And I was bored, terribly bored, but brimming with excitement.  Shifting from side to side, making up games with my parents, telling them about school, my friends, talking about life because what else was there to do?  I couldn’t check out.  I was present, watching, learning, listening.  Our kids won’t have to do this, they will sit staring at that tiny little device that I’m sure will weaken their eyes over time.

“S., do you want milk with your dinner?  S., put down the phone for a second.  S. S. S. Do you want milk with dinner?”

She doesn’t even hear me as she doodles pretty pictures on the screen of my device.  My wife threatening to take all the kiddy apps off her phone, not because she doesn’t want our daughter to play with it but because she wants to look at it too.  Susan and I fight over who will put the phone with the white noise app in the babies’ room before we leave for a date because neither of us wants to leave our phone at home.  We finally resorted to bringing the ipad into their room so we could both complete our outfits and entertain ourselves with what?  Texts! Facebook!  Emails that can sometimes ruin a night.  Calendar updates reminding us that tomorrow will be an early busy day!  We are addicted.  There will soon be a TUA (Technology Users Anonymous) if there isn’t already because despite what we think, we miss actually connecting with the people around us while we vicariously live through Facebook and Twitter and every other social media outlet we can get our swiping little fingers on.  As that famous Harry Chapin song goes– our kids will soon be like us one day, they will check-out at the dinner table to mindlessly text or telepathically swipe or whatever the brainiac minds create, whilst we complain that they don’t love us anymore, they aren’t present.  The truth is, they are learning it from us.  My  7-month-old picked up my phone and began pushing her fingers side-to-side on the screen.

But how do you save yourself from something that has become so innately required in life today?  We must be available at all times, it’s expected, it’s needed and it’s the way life goes.  Our phones will soon take the place of our driver’s licenses, wallets, handbags, credit cards, cash machines, mirrors, alarm clocks, books, CDs, DVDs, computers and much more if it hasn’t already.

I wrote a while back about No Technology Night and in the very same blog linked a video I made during No Technology Night.  I couldn’t make it a night and I somehow convinced myself that I had.  It’s not easy people but I think it’s absolutely necessary to find the time to re-charge without anything clouding my thoughts.

What are your thoughts?  Do you let your children watch TV?  Use your phones?  Play games?  I want to know.



  1. says

    i don’t look at my phone when I am with people or at dinner. I keep my ringers off even during the day. I check when it is convenient. When I am home I am on my laptop a lot working and reading but when I am out and especially with friends it stays in my purse. Bad news travels fast and you will learn about it soon enough. I won’t let people text with me when they are out with me otherwise we don’t go out. There is a joke going around that everyone puts their phones on the table during a meal out and the first one who grabs it pays the bill. Nothing truly is that important. Before cellphones I was at a party and I called home from a land line phone and found out my son had hit his head, they had called my neighbor (doctor) and he was evaluating. He told me it needed stitches but I could stay at the party and take him to ER when I got home. As I walked into my house there sat my parents fuming as they had called and heard the same story and came right over to sit and wait for me. I looked at my son and told him to put his shoes on and we would go to the ER. My son turned to my parents and said, “see I told you she didn’t care,” And off he went a few hours after the injury. He got stitched and all was well. After working for pediatricians and other doctors there are but a few real emergencies that need immediate attention. I say turn off ringer, enjoy what you are doing and the odds of a tragedy are so rare and believe me it will be taken care of while you are gone and handled by the time you find out. Think back before cellphones when phones were on your wall at your house.We went out, left babysitters in charge and rarely called to check in.

  2. Selina says

    I feel the same way, Brandy! All of these crazy instant messages! I was recently without a phone and Internet for two whole days. I survived. Once I got my panicked breathing under control, it was actually very nice and peaceful. Quiet time is important. I don’t let my kids play on my phone. I have them bring paper, books and crayons to keep themselves entertained instead. On the other hand, it is important for children to learn computers. National Standards in schools are changing to include technology now, too. By 2014, Kinders will need to know how to type and print with little assistance, while 4th graders (9yr olds) will need to be able to type a whole page in one sitting. Baby is bored? Put on the typing tutorial! LOL

  3. B says

    Good article Brandy. I loved the old days of no call waiting, land lines and no texting. We had to to look each other in the faces, notice body language, and let our creativity loose. It was thoughtful , and alive and present. Technology is here to stay , but we need to be in charge of how we use it.

  4. says

    I was in a Starbucks recently, waiting for coffee and I looked around and every single person (save my Barista) was staring at a screen. I felt like I could have wandered around and picked up purses and coffees and even a kid or two and no one would have noticed. It’s weird. I’m trying to keep screens to a minimum. My kids don’t have phones and I try hard not to let them borrow mine. It’s a battle, but you’re right to say that WE are in charge of the phone, not the other way around.

  5. Brandy Black says

    @ Madge- I love the whoever looks at their phone rule first pays rule! I’m going to use that one.

    @Selina- I know the school thing really freaked me out even though ultimately it makes sense that we are moving in that direction.

    @B- Friday night card night Forever!!

    @ Tanya- I have had those moments, we should do our own version of flash mob in Starbucks and see how many bags we collect :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *