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Moms' Talk: Let's Play 'Phone Stacking'

Also known as, put down the phones and let's talk.

With four smartphones in our family we have 24/7 access to Facebook, email, Words with Friends, texting and the Internet in the palm of our hand.  It is like a giant magnet pulling us into the world wide web of information!

Before all of us get totally addicted to these devices, if we haven’t arrived at the point of no return yet, we should sit back and figure out what is most important in our lives.  Is it our interpersonal relationships with our family, friends and coworkers or it is getting the next triple word score in Words with Friends?

I am as guilty as anyone else who is hooked on keeping in touch, keeping up to date and being in constant contact. Bob often has to remind me to put down my iPhone and be engaged in the activity that is going on right in front of me.

How do you extricate yourself from your smartphone?  Do you think it’s important to “show” your children that there are times when using a smartphone is OK and others when they are unnecessary and more directly forbidden?

I want to believe that people value their interpersonal relationships more than their web relations. Yet just looking around in stores, train stations, coffee shops and restaurants paints a different picture.

Three recent news stories caught my attention.  The first, reported on the nightly network news, quoted a study showing that walking with headphones on can be dangerous to your health.

Seriously, do we even need to be reminded of the dangers of this kind of behavior?  Walking down any street means cars, people, children, bicycles and warning alarms. With your ears plugged and your head filled with music and/or conversation even the best multi-tasker is putting themselves and others in danger. 

Do you talk with your children about safe use of their cell phones?

Recently, I had a discussion with the girls about texting and talking on the phones while walking down a street.  Being alert and focused while out and about is just plain smart. Preoccupation with texting and phone conversations make you vulnerable to any number of misfortunes.

More startling was a Yale Daily News report that the very popular “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present” course has been capped at 270 by Professor Alexander Nemerov, because, ‘“In the past many students in the lecture were doing Facebook or email or all kinds of things on their computers,” Nemerov said. “So for me it’s better if there’s a room where that is not possible, and one of the unfortunate effects of that is that I have to limit the enrollment of the class to the capacity of the auditorium,”’ said the article.

This is astounding to me.  After working so hard to gain admittance to Yale and then having to work diligently to keep up with the academic rigors I would not expect this kind of behavior from the students.  Yet, plugging in and keeping constantly in touch knows no bounds, obviously!

If I still have your attention there is one way to encourage you to disengage yourself from your phone.  This is a game anyone can play.  It is easy, it is safe and it is can yield big results if you just leave your phone alone.

"Phone stacking,” a game that forces people to interact with their companions, and not their devices, is gaining steam around dinner tables in the United States, Forbes reports.

All diners stack their cell phones in the center of a restaurant table.  If anyone uses the phone during dinner they pick up the tab. If all cell phones remain silent and untouched for the entire meal, the bill is split evenly.

Maybe we ought to make it a practice to check our devices at the entrance of the classroom, the hostess desk of the restaurant, and the entryway to our home.  This will force us all back to reality, making interpersonal and intellectual connections.  We may just find it to be as entertaining and enticing as what lies behind that screen of our smartphone ~ probably more entertaining!

Sarah Page Kyrcz January 27, 2012 at 03:35 AM
Suzanne. I hope you are on the road to recovery and will be back in tip top shape soon. You hit on an important issue. When you really need a cell phone it is a wonderful way to communicate -good and bad news. Remember when they first came out and we had them "just for emergencies?" As for Facebook. Fun, yes. Informational, sometimes. Essential, never. Be wel!
Sarah Page Kyrcz January 27, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Andrew. This subject is not going away very soon. I see the rudeness and focus on "me, me, me" pervasive in our society. From cell phones to driving habits to overall behavior in society. Where have our manners gone?!?
Evan DeFrancesco January 28, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Very intriguing article, and spot on! Your "me, me, me" comment reminds me of the chapter called "An Army of One: Me", from Jean Twenge's book "Generation Me." It was a truly fascinating read! http://www.generationme.org/index.html
EB January 28, 2012 at 12:18 PM
My husband and I went to dinner last night at a very nice restaurant in town. I must've had this column on my mind, because I noticed right off how many people were on their phones at their tables! Across from us was a family of four - the teen daughter was using her phone the entire time. No conversation with her. Next to us, a family of 3 - the boy was on his phone and the parents sat in silence. A group of teen girls were celebrating a birthday at a large table - all on their phones (and talking at the same time)! We have to stop this!!! It is simply bad manners on top of everything else.
Sarah Page Kyrcz January 30, 2012 at 04:00 AM
Evan and EB ~ I believe that part of the problem with everyone being on their cell phones is that we have truly lost touch with our ability to communicate face to face and to extend ourselves. Our youth today are growing up with this attitude that the world revolves around them and if they perceive to have something more important to do (i.e. answer a text) while eating dinner or attending a party or visiting friends they will certainly answer that text no matter how rude it is. We need to get back to basics, spending quality time with important people in our lives and respecting others. How are we going to do that ~ that is the question!

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