Brave enough to try the ‘cell phone stack’?

<strong>From the Reporter’s Desk</strong> Valerie Urbanik

From the Reporter’s Desk Valerie Urbanik

Put down the electronics!

It drives me crazy when I go out to eat and see people sitting at a table staring at their phones texting, emailing, or playing games. What happened to playing a board game or cards? How about going outside to play or even hanging out with your family?

I always have an urge to take those phones and break them in hopes of forcing people to talk to each other.

As of this past year, 90 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone and 67 percent check their phone for messages, alerts, or calls even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating, according to Pew Research Center.

People almost always have their cell phone within arm’s reach. Pew recently found 44 percent of cell phone owners have slept with their phone next to their bed because they wanted to make sure they didn’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night.

It’s scary how many people are engulfed in their phones, tablets, and laptops, especially children.

Another Pew Research Center report, this one from 2013, determined 78 percent of teenagers (ages 12 to 17) have a cell phone and almost half own a smart phone. One in four teens use their phones to access the Internet compared to only 15 percent of adults.

I might have an answer.

My cousins and I started something called the “cell phone stack” at family events. It’s put into play when we realize several of us are absorbed by our phones and not speaking with each other.

We place each phone face-down in the center of a table and no one is allowed to pick up or look at their phone even if it’s ringing, vibrating, or beeping. This little game started as a fun joke between us to see who would cave first. It has evolved into a necessity.

And it’s wonderful to have no one distracted by their phone.

I remember my parents always telling my brothers and me when we were younger and in the house to go outside and play. We would play football, baseball, soccer, basketball, climb trees, go for bike rides, play in the creek, or with our animals. It seems like kids today don’t go outside and play as much as I remember.

I thank my parents for having us go outside. Today I cannot stand being inside for long periods of time. I don’t watch a lot of television. To be honest, if I could I would live in a cabin in the woods.

Don’t get me wrong — I like having a cellphone, laptop, and wireless Internet. Nonetheless, I also love writing letters and would rather be face-to-face talking with someone than through text messages or over the phone.

I urge you to put down your cell phones this holiday season or create your own “cell phone stack.” Play a game. Go outside. Enjoy being with the ones you love.

From the Reporter’s Desk Valerie Urbanik the Reporter’s Desk Valerie Urbanik