Can we park our cell phones and talk?

Wayne D. Wike - Contributing columnist

My wife and I were in a restaurant a few months ago and we noticed a family of five seated at another table. Each member of the family was riveted to their electronic devices. No one was talking. Each was lost in cyberspace.

I wish that situation was unusual, but it’s not. While visiting a senior adult in her home, she told me that her two adult children recently visited. She pointed to the sofa in her living room and told me that one sat on one end of the sofa and the other sat on the other end. She was disturbed by their lack of conversation. Both were using their cell phones to text each other while seated on the same sofa. Frustrated by their lack of conversation, she finally told them, “Put those things away and talk.”

The late comedian Joan Rivers entertained audiences with the line, “Can we talk?” She used that satirical line to draw attention to something she wanted everyone’s undivided attention. There are times in which I want to ask, “Can we talk?”

Talking has become a casualty of our tech-driven society. Chick-fil-A is trying to counter this movement with their “Cell Phone Coop” project.

Over 350 Chick-fil-A restaurants are offering families a unique challenge. If families dining in their restaurants will place their cell phones in a “coop,” a cardboard box placed in the center of their table while dining, they will receive a free ice cream cone following their meal. Bravo, Chick-fil-A! Bravo!

According to a press release, the average American spends four hours a day on their cell phones. That’s a lot of talking and texting. I wonder how much of it takes place during our meal times.

Jim Denison writes in his blog, “Research shows that dinnertime conversation boosts the vocabulary of young children more than being read aloud to does. Regular family meals have been shown to lower the risk of teenage smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, eating disorders, and sexual activity.”

He continues by stating dinnertime conversations increases children’s “chances of attaining a higher grade point average and better self-esteem.”

Denison’s comments should encourage every parent to park their cell phones before their family meal time.

If you study the life of Jesus, you will notice that he placed a high priority on meal times with his followers and those whom he was trying to reach. I know cell phones were not around in the first century, but I doubt if Jesus would have told his disciples in the Upper Room, “Just a minute, I’ve got to take this call.”

The Rev. Wayne Wike is senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Laurinburg. Reach him at [email protected]

Wayne D. Wike

Contributing columnist

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