Columnist Marc Saltzman explains on how to safeguard the devices your children use when surfing the net and using applications.
Marc Saltzman Special for USA Today

To phone or not to phone? Everyone knows the dilemma.

Our cellphones have become such a vital part of our daily lives that it’s hard to know where to draw the line.

When is being on the phone necessary, when is it just filling down time and when is it completely unwelcome?

Recently, during a particularly difficult work week, I was kindly scolded by a dear friend while out at dinner for being “addicted” to my phone.

I couldn’t deny it. I was under a super amount of stress, and checking constant messages from the team email thread had become a knee-jerk reaction all week long.

Other times, I’m on the other side, trying to get my husband or sons off their phones as they sit down at our dining table.

Just say no to technology at family gatherings?

This topic came up recently in the Living Chandler Facebook group. And a lively conversation ensued:

“Wanted to know people’s opinion on this. We are planning a family Easter get together/BBQ at our home. Lots of kids and teenagers of course. And of course all they want to do is hide in our loft and play PS4 and be on their phones. They ask for Wi-Fi passwords and get buried in social media. I want nothing to do (with) that. So NO Wi-Fi will be given out and disconnecting PS4. Instead a box of balls, because there’s a park next door, will be out and board games will be out as well. We’ve done family water balloon fights and kickball games. But as soon as those games ended, it seemed like every teenager and kid was on either an iPad or their phones. What do you guys think?”

At first the resounding response was agreement.

Lots of adults with the same problem in their families piped in with their takes on how attached to phones, games and computers our children, and society as a whole, are these days.

Then, a couple of people expressed how socially uncomfortable they had felt at large family gatherings during their teens. And how their phone or video game let them feel like they had an escape, while still able to listen and feel like they were a part of the activities.

Another person mentioned this Wi-Fi embargo could possibly cause the visiting kids to dislike attending future events if they feel the way they entertain themselves is looked down upon.

Society (you and I) must set the rules

As technology develops, the debate will only continue. Finding balance in life will also mean finding balance in how we interact with each other online and in person.

What will future communication be like?

Only geniuses tinkering away in the basements of computer and cellphone companies really know. But how we as a people integrate technology into our daily relationships will be entirely up to us as a society.

What’s your technology rule?

Tia Coates plays the piano and cello, and sings with the Phoenix Symphony Chorus. She lives in Chandler with her husband and their two sons, Toby and Miller, and she’s one of the founders of the Living Chandler Facebook group

More from Tia

Why I hugged a total stranger in a coffee shop

Hipsters and cowboys and techies — when did Chandler get so hip?

Living Chandler builds neighborliness with technology


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