Who will talk to our children?


Chandra took this photo

During one of my usual breakfasts at a local cafe, I sat next to a father, mother and son. The child seemed about seven or eight. Dad was busy on his cellphone. Mom was busy on hers. The boy stood next to his father and tapped the man on his arm. He wanted to say something.

The father impatiently pushed him away, saying: ‘Leave me alone.’

I see this kind of thing too often. I don’t like it, but usually don’t intervene. It isn’t my business, but I was so sad and angry and bothered by it this time, I took the liberty as an old crone to butt in.


Your son needs to talk to you

‘Excuse me sir,’ said I, ‘Your son wants to talk to you. They grow up so quickly, before you turn around, he’ll be married. Please listen to him now.’

Much to my surprise, the parents didn’t tell me to shut up and mind my own business. Instead, the dad explained he was working.


What will happen to all these children?

I suggested he take a little time off during breakfast to listen to the child. Then I went back to my coffee and book. The next time I looked up, all three were on their cellphones.

What will happen to all these young children I see who sit quietly while parents are attached to technology and are encouraged to do the same?

I also worry about the damage being done to the vision of toddlers I see on the bus in strollers, kept quiet and occupied with mom’s cell phone.


I worry about the damage to their vision

Parents are so attached to those blankity-blank phones everywhere — walking, in restaurants, and one can safely assume, at home as well. Will their children even learn how to talk?


C’mon folks. Give me a break.

Will these quiet children ever know the pleasure of conversation which I so enjoy? Who will talk to them? I worry. Or am I just being cranky?


19 thoughts on “Who will talk to our children?

  1. Not too cranky at all, Muriel. Next to GLobal Warming, I think High Tech is massively, massively changing our society and how we act. And I think we ARE losing the ability to talk to one another.

    Don’t blame it all on computers. TV started changing us in the 60’s when it really took off. My Mom’s generation (and I guess yours Muriel), born in 1925 and not getting TV until her 30’s or 40’s, was conditioned to interact with people. And therefore me and my brothers were raised with talking and social gatherings.

    TV is what started people just staring at a screen and not talking. I’ve only really started watching TV in earnest in the past 20 years. But I find there is just no time for TV! And I’m not even working! It takes precious time away from the world/air/space I am in, wherever I am. Same with headphones in public. People are missing out on each other – which is really themselves, mirrored back.
    (In a way, we’re denying our own existence!)

    But prior to TV (and perhaps also radio), unless you were a bookworm, people would HAVE to talk to people just to amuse themselves. Or go outside. I think that’s why cops shoot people now, because they are just not used to interacting with poeple. (And perhaps too used to shooter video games?)

    And now you have parents scared to let their kids go outside by themselves. (And sometimes even with an adult friend!)

    All the vehicles and SUV’s with black on the windows really scare me. Because that is saying that people are something to be feared and shut out. Back prior to the 60’s/70’s we would never dream of not being able for people to see us. People had to say hi and wave from the street! These were your neighbours, not people to be feared!

    I’m scared that these kids who don’t know how to talk to people are going to be taking care of me in the old folks home! Well, it is what it is. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
    . . .

    • Muriel , your spot on….don’t know but I think there will be a generation or two who have serious anxiety problems and little in the way of patients , patients for others, that is face to face social interaction and It will be another social medical problem .

      • Thanks Muriel. Though the Shingles pain has only been around a 2 out of 10… noticable when I think about it, and it’ll be nice when its over. But way better than what way too many people have to suffer thru who have real pain.

    • Chris, I think social interactions probably changed a fair bit even when radio became widely available. I know that people used to sit around the radio and listen to shows, which would be very different from getting together to chat, play games, whatever. Listening to the radio no doubt uses more of your brain than watching TV, but it sill focuses the people on someone/something that is not an actual human in front of them. Certainly, things keep changing along those lines, and not for the better, it seems. Are we headed for an existence like the one in “The Matrix”, where there are no actual interactions between people at all — just programmed/imagined ones?

  2. It is now considered “rude” by many younger people to call them without first texting to see if it is okay to call. So, they don’t even like to talk on the phones they are obsessively attached to! “Actually talking to people takes too much time,” they’ve told me, when I ask them why they prefer texting. Wow.

  3. This is priceless, and such a timely subject! I’m glad you said something to the dad, and just sorry that he didn’t (or couldn’t) understand the importance of paying attention to his child. And for sure, these poor kids are going to have trouble communicating with others verbally, and may not even learn how to make eye contact. There may be a lack of knowing how to trust others, as well, or to experience the warmth of human contact. Oh dear, you’ve got me on a roll!

  4. I’m anything but an expert on this subject. But cell phones and other devices for sure have changed the ways that people act and interact. I don’t understand why people walk along the street staring into their phones. It’s weird.

  5. Muriel….I take my hat off to you for having approached the father about not attending to his son. You should send your blog to all schools to ignite a national debate about this important subject. It is so easy to become addicted to a cell phone. In addition to the social damage to families there is a questionable medical harm: Radiation to the brain from prolonged talking and listening while using a cell phone. Remember when smoking cigarettes was safe.? Then it was considered “possibly causing lung cancer” then it was finally declared “definitely causes lung cancer”. I hope I am wrong but I think cell phones are harmful to the brain based on recent research. Great blog. Every family in the USA should get your VIEW FROM OVER THE HILL.

  6. I completely agree with you. I have the same reaction when I see this going on, especially at a meal. Meals are a fantastic way to connect to each other and talk about what is going on, rather than staring at a tiny screen ignoring one another!

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