I’m having a heck of a time coming up with coherent, logical and reasonable rules for cellphones in my family. The problem is, I like my cellphone and use it to keep in touch with my many friends and colleagues. There are times when it’s okay, of course, and other times — like driving — when it’s just verboten, but trying to figure out how to balance it or how to allot an appropriate amount of time for non-cell activity is proving rather tricky.
Even the most basic of issues about having cellphones at the table during a meal ends up having footnotes or escape clauses. “I’m waiting to hear back about homework?” “We’re planning our evening, I need to stay on top of things.” “You told me to plan ahead, I’m planning ahead!”
My favorite, of course, is the phone on the lap, as if I wouldn’t notice the eyeballs lured to the glowing screen every 17 seconds. Like moths to a flame indeed…
Still, I find myself wrestling with it too and when I meet friends or colleagues, we often all have our cellphones sitting on the table, as if that next email message or text message is going to be earth-shattering and more important than any of the rest of us at the table.
If we’re all doing it, does the rudeness cancel out?
The basic rule is that when we sit down to do something together, cellphones are put away because the people you’re with are more important than the people on the other end of the phone line. How that works with my teen daughter when her boyfriend wants to text (read “waste countless hours on their banal chats” 🙂 ) is up for interpretation, but the basic rule should be easy to make work, right?
Except… except sometimes I want to have my phone out, and other times there are excuses of some varying level of believability that are tossed into the mix.
Meanwhile, on the AT&T Wireless site, they’re running a poll and the results reveal that most people think it’s rude to text while sitting at the table with others, as you can see, but the real question should have been “do you think it’s rude to text while at the table but do it on occasion anyway?” to reveal the inevitable hypocrisy that I think is built-in to the situation.
It’s only human nature: give us something that’ll show updates and notifications and we’re going to be glued to it waiting for something exciting to happen, right?
Heck, it took a while for us to actually have an agreed-upon “device curfew”, as I’ve written about before, where at a specified time (9pm on schoolnights, 10pm on weekends) they’re all powered down and left in the main area, not to be touched until the following morning on penalty of great and unpleasant consequences.
When A- (15) and I were on vacation, she made an impassioned and quite reasonable case for waiving the curfew and taking her phone in bed with her. Yeah. Ugh. But I always have my cellphone by my bedside table, so how is it any different?
Dear reader, what’s your take on this whole thing? Do you think it’s rude to have a cellphone on the table when you’re with others? What if they basically ignore it, glancing to keep an eye that there are no proverbial fires to put out? And what of children who are very much a part of the digital generation, with these devices melded into their skull directly?
I’m still trying to figure out a simple, coherent and enforceable policy that applies equally to everyone in the family. Even myself…