Texting at the Table: A Nuisance or a Necessity?

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By Alexandra Sukin ’15, co-editor-in-chief

Every teenager has experienced the loud groan from a parent that indicates the complete disapproval of the omnipresent iPhone. What is so wrong about checking your twitter feed while eating your veggies? And yet parents seem so disturbed by the fact that the phone has become an extension of your arm, a limb so essential to your everyday function that not dinner, not a riveting conversation, and certainly not the constant harassing can bring you to part with it. And there is something satisfying about the surreptitious dinner text, that makes

you feel as if the conversation is simply too hip for the parents.

In a recent New York Times article Sara Rimer complains about the unbearable texter at one of her Yom Kippur dinners. She relates his natural habit to “texting anarchy,” a term coined Cindy Post Senning. This worldwide attack on casual texting seems to stem from a general misunderstanding of the purpose of dinner table texting. No, people don’t do it because they enjoy watching faces scrunch in frustration and disgust. It goes far beyond that. And Shannon Doyle of the New York Times is willing to argue that texting at the table can actually enrich the dinner. “What if a few clicks of the smartphone can answer a question, solve a dispute or elucidate that thoughtful point you were making?” she asks in her article. “What if that [phone] is not being using to escape a conversation but to enhance it?” She goes on to give multiple examples of how the ability to whip out her phone and search for an answer has saved dinners from complete chaos. It can be difficult for some families to accept that yes, technology is going to pervade absolutely every aspect of life, including home life. However, this confusion and frustration should not manifest itself at the dinner table.