The other day I called up a talk back radio station to add my 5 cents to a discussion on mobile phone etiquette. I mentioned the poor modelling that I feel we do as adults for the youth in our society. Just after that a parent called in to say what a wake up call it was to have her three year old say to her “no more phone mummy”.
A wake up call indeed – I know I have spoken about this often but again I ask you – just what is it that we are modelling to our children when we prioritise a lump of plastic and circuits (our phone!) over their needs? Our children learn from every tiny interaction. Perhaps I should actually say THE children – because it’s not just your children or my children, it is the children we are sitting beside on the train, or in the cinema. We allow our phones to invade our lives to such a degree now that it is having a negative effect on relationships and development in my opinion. All this was prior to the viral “Phubbing” campaign which is now exploding around the world.
Not to be a hypocrite, I love my phone and I know I seem to be always using it – whether as a phone or for some other function, however I am becoming more and more aware from my own research. I have certain rules which I would never change – I turn off the phone in meetings, the cinema or theatre, and depending who I’m with we make agreements as to whether phones are in or out. I’m getting much better at putting it away or turning the phone on silent or do not disturb if I just need to use the camera. Even then, the urge to instagram or immediately share photos is strong. Depending who I am with or how excited I am about it I may post immediately, or sometimes I leave it til later. The learning curve to balance life and technology is a tricky one! But I’m not a child and I can make these decisions and logically look at the pros and cons. It is harder for a child to be able to see that having the phone with them everywhere is not really a good idea, they are learning to live their lives forever connected.
How often do you see teens in a cafe not even talking to each other, just sitting there having conversations with their phones or playing candy crush! Ask them and they are happy just being in each others company. So is that a problem? It’s lovely that they are ease with each other, but are they developing their communication skills and ability to discuss things face to face? There are times with my own (adult) children that we have found it easier to sort out a disagreement via text because it puts a space between us. I tried to look at that as a benefit of phones, but instead I think it actually shows that our ability to discuss and work through an issue face to face has been eroded – and that is NOT a good thing by any standard. Communication is both beautiful and can be so difficult, but is an essential part of our lives, without it we become detached from not just society but ourselves.
Each generation is being born into a world further invaded (and supported) by technology and I feel that new parents need to be the ones leading the change. We still don’t really know the effects of all this extra radiation bouncing about, although evidence does strongly suggest that mobile phones should not be put to the ears of young children who’s skulls are still quite thin. So should young Mum’s be on the phone whilst breast or bottle feeding? Feeding your baby is one of the most special, intimate and quiet times – there is bonding and gentle communication – some things should be sacred and mobile phones should not be part of this experience. Our babies deserve our FULL attention surely? I certainly believe so.
It all really comes back to respect. Respect for the people we are with and around at any given time.
So are our phones too invasive? Should we start having NO PHONE zones like there are on public transport in Japan?
What are your thoughts?