Countdown has begun. In 30 seconds a major asteroid will collide with Earth! JJ Watt called and wants to practice some football drills with you. You’ve won a million dollars and a trip to Disney World! No response. My kid’s head is down and he is intently watching a small, rectangular device in his hand. The only signs of life I can detect are his diaphragm moving slowly up and down, and the thumbs and index fingers seem to be moving on their own. Eyes are fixated and pupils appear dialated. There is absolutely no response to any of my attempts at verbal communication.
Sound familiar? The image can only be something that every parent of a pre-teen or “tween” is learning to deal with. While our kids have no cell phones of their own, they use ours frequently to play games and see what their friends are doing on social media. This is learned behavior by the way. Humans aren’t born with an innate sense of pushing buttons. But from the looks of things, this generation will never know that concept.
I grew up in the 70s and 80s where board games were cool, and Battleship was the closest thing to being “tech savvy”. By the time the Atari game system launched in the 80s, with the game Pac Man following soon after, we thought as kids that this was the biggest invention ever!
Arcades were the rage then too with pin ball machines and their fancy, bright lights. Going to the pizza parlor were you could play games AND eat pizza with a big mouse called Chuck E. seemed like heaven. Your parents yelled your name out to come sit down when the food was ready, and everyone would sit, eat, and talk. Now most likely a parent will text their kids to come to the table, everyone will sit down, phones are out on the table while the family is eating, and an occasional word will be spoken.
It’s an addiction. It’s everywhere. Go to any public gathering and you’ll see adults doing the same thing; heads down with thumbs and index fingers moving like crazy. In a few years I predict the physical therapists will have an epidemic on their hands from strained necks and over usage of thumbs. And plastic surgeons will be working on the “turkey necks” that adults are giving themselves by looking down so continuously. (Gobble gobble!)
I am preaching to myself here. How many times I find myself getting caught up with what someone is doing. “Oh you’re eating that for dinner? Yummy!” or where someone is vacationing, “Third cruise this year? Jealous!” Actually I’m nauseated. Why is this so perpetual? I love being connected but where to strike a balance is tricky. I’m “pinning” recipes and DIY projects that I will never to get to try because I’m on my phone! And the Word Crack game has the word “crack” in it for obvious reasons. We just can’t seem to put these things down and walk away.
I hate to miss a birthday or anniversary. I love seeing baby pictures posted by my friends. Vacation photos? Bring them on! I can dream about where I would love to go. But when we as a family and society begin to withdraw from each other, that’s when you realize enough is enough. So my husband and I have come up with a few rules to help ourselves and our family:
- At the dinner table, no cell phones are allowed.
- Posting photos of each other are ok as long as I’m in good lighting and my husband has his Giants hat on.
- No posting about being out of town on vacation while we’re actually away. We don’t want our Facebook Friends and Family breaking and entering. (You can thank us later from saving you from a life of crime.)
- Kids are not allowed to have cell phones until we as parents feel they are responsible enough to own one. At this point, 19 years old seems pretty reasonable.
- When someone doesn’t seem to be responding to anything that my husband and I are saying (see the beginning of this blog), it’s definitely time to provide CPR because the Cell Phone Coma has commenced.
So look up and around. Enjoy the view. Save your neck from future plastic surgery. More importantly save yourself and your loved ones from Cell Phone Coma.
“T minus 10, 9, 8 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, the Asteroid!” I yell out. “What?” I hear from the patient. It seems he has finally awakened from his coma…for now.