Friday, May 14, 2010

Cell phones, Texting and Manners or Raising Godly Children in a Techie World: Part 3

"Don't talk with food in your mouth!", "Don't interrupt when someone else is speaking!", "Son, give your seat to a lady or an elderly person!" We've all heard our mothers instruct us in the art of common and everyday manners. It's part of living in an orderly and polite society. It's called decency.

But what in the world is happening! A loud ring tone interrupts a Sunday worship service, people walk out of a lecture, class, or sermon because "they just have to take this call", and pleasant dinner conversations are halted by a call or a text.

Modern technological marvels and instant communication have made our lives so much more convenient. Mothers feel a much deeper sense of security because their children are "just a phone call away". But where have all the manners gone? Private conversations used to be...well...private. I am amazed at how freely we speak to others about important and private things while a whole host of people are the grocery store, in the restaurant, and in the doctor's office. I am saddened at how many family dinners are spoiled by half the family texting, half the family on their cell phones, and the rest staring into space as they wait for these conversations to end. I am tired of being unintentionally and unavoidably a part of "overhearing" conversations I do not want to be a part of.

Mothers and fathers used to take the time to teach their little ones manners both in society and in the home but when it comes to cell phones and texting, I repeat, where have all the manners gone. Parents, please, before you give your children a phone of their own, make sure they know the proper manners necessary for polite conversation at the proper time and in the proper way. (And it wouldn't hurt for us to set the right example as well.)

Turn the cell phone off at the dinner table or at the restaurant surrounded by friends. It is a time for the conversation to be focused on those who are present. Emergency calls can happen, but are so much more infrequent then the constant communication I have witnessed when dining with friends. Call it what it is....rude! Not only are you halting the conversation, but you are thoughtlessly interrupting the person you are with and making them wait while you focus your attention on someone else. Instead, teach your children to look others in the eyes, to focus their attention on the one they are conversing with, and to truly participate in what they are saying.

Cell phones are an amazing gift from God. In using them let us not forget that people and manners matter. Manners help us to show others that we care about them and they let our children know that there is a polite and thoughtful way to communicate with people. Even if "everybody else" does it, let's be different...let's be thoughtful, considerate, and polite.