Call me old fashioned, but the other day I saw something that I thought was incredibly disturbing, but I am sure most will not find it shocking. Just picture this with me. My children and I were at a local eatery enjoying a simple meal on a Friday evening and in walks an elderly couple. I would say they were in their mid-80’s. With this beautiful couple were two children; I am guessing the girl was 9-ish and the boy was 11-ish. I assumed this was a grandparents/grandchildren outing given the smile on the grandmother’s face. She was simply beaming ear to ear. I haven’t seen an adult smile like that in ages.
The proud grandfather graciously distributed everyone’s food as they all sat down. All seemed to be going well until about three minutes into the meal when the boy pulled out his phone and began to play a game. From that point on, his nose was glued to his mobile device while simultaneously inhaling his food. Eating took nothing away from his ability to play this game. Little sister was equally consumed watching him. Neither child ever looked up for the remainder of the thirty minutes I was at the restaurant.
The mood had now shifted. The grandmother’s face spoke just as loudly as it had when they first arrived. Her precious eyes fell with pain, and the grandfather’s head dropped in defeat. No one uttered a word. I wanted to walk over to their table and thump these incredibly rude punks. How could anyone be so clueless and so completely disrespectful? If I ever hear that my children do something like this…well, let me just say that it won’t be pretty. Clearly the parents of these children have not taught their children better. Shame on them.
At what point did it become socially acceptable to avoid meaningful conversation? At what point in our society did it become acceptable to dishonor the elderly? At what point, did we become so relationally inept that we would rather stare at our phones than look one another in the eye and communicate with one another?
Wake up, parents! Take the “device” away, and teach your children respect. Take the “device” away, and teach your children how to be secure in their own heads. Take the “device” away, and teach your children how to be creative in their moments of boredom. Take the “device” away, and teach your children the value of friendship and family. Take the “device” away, and teach your children how to sit still and behave. They don’t need a “device” to baby-sit them.
Since I moved recently, I don’t have anyone to help me care for my children when I go to appointments. So when I have to get my hair cut or my teeth cleaned, I have to drag my three year old and my six year old with me. My “device” of choice? A book! I bring along a book or two and get my oldest to read to my youngest. And if they choose not to read, then they can sit quietly and watch me get my hair cut. I refuse to train my children to need a piece of technology to entertain them and be their best friend. I’d rather them sit across the table from their grandparents and treasure their wisdom.
Now before you scream at me about how I am hindering my children from growing in the age of technology that they live in, you ought to know that my kids own robots that are controlled by an app that we have on their tablet. We bought this so they would grow up learning programming skill. My three year old easily navigates the internet (my watching closely of course) via Google voice. When my six year old needed to know the difference between a whale and a dolphin, he too just checks in with Google. So to all you pro-device folks out there, I am not depriving my children. I am simply teaching them what is appropriate and what is not; and for the sake of good-ol’ fashion relationships and common decency, I hope you will do the same.