Dear Grandparenting: I should begin by saying I am not an Internet-hater. I enjoy technologies that improve my quality of life, provided they’re not too complicated. I have this device that tells me how many calories I’ve burned and keeps track of my activity, and I like that.
My complaint is what this technology is doing to grandchildren. Do you have any idea how many hours they spend glued to smart phones, computers and anything else that blinks and beeps? I mean it absolutely rules their lives!
What I’ve noticed most is how it changes how they act with other people, like me. Our conversations, if you call it that, are over so quickly. I mean 60 seconds is about it. Beyond that, they start fiddling with their smart phones between sentences and then they just stop talking, period. Like I’m a stick of furniture!
This leaves me wondering what my grandchildren will be like when they grow up. I know that so-called “social media” is the big thing with kids today. But if you ask me, there’s nothing social about it all. My grandchildren want to be left alone — cell phone in hand, of course. Giff Smith, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Dear Giff: Don’t get us started. Is it really asking too much of this generation to sustain routine social interactions without technological accompaniment? Mid-conversation, they get that itchy feeling in their techno trigger and you’re history.
Communication is constantly evolving — good luck finding a pay phone today. But smart phones are simply too addictive. Instead of talking and laughing together, groups of youngsters sit silently side-by-side, riveted to their cell phones, like so many little islands.
According to a major study by Pew Research, we’re at the point where adolescents and teens actually spend more time engaged with devices that blink and beep than they do sleeping. Something has to give. Critics maintain this perpetual stream of techno stimulation gives grandchildren about the same attention span as a small flea, erodes social skills and inhibits their ability to form rich relationships.
Maybe that’s why we know of some grandparents who insist that all guests check their smart phones at the door when hosting family functions. And you know what? We’re informed that every grandchild survived the ordeal, against all odds. Imagine.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
“The Wiz” from Nashville, Tennessee, was “tickled pink with the charming compliment” she received from six-year old granddaughter, Layla, as she finished wishing her happy birthday on the phone.
“Layla said I was a little bit teacher, a little bit parent and a little bit her best friend.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.