Rick Rogers: Put the cell phone away and interact with each other

Rick Rogers

A few days ago, I was teasing my good friend Jake about how it was time for him to upgrade his cell phone.

Jake, who admits he is not the most technology-savvy fella, still uses an old, trusty flip phone. He doesn’t text message, and his phone doesn’t even feature a camera.

How 2006 is that?

I tease him because my new phone, an iPhone, has changed my life — but not necessarily in a good way.

For those who have been living under a rock, the iPhone is basically a mini Apple computer.

It is a phone, media center, video game console and Internet browser all in one. I can make phone calls, surf the Web for updates on my pals on Facebook, listen to my favorite songs and play a game of "Pac-Man" to kill the time. It is a lifesaver when having to kill an hour waiting in line at the DMV, and is a great tool for work because I can receive and send e-mail from all my accounts.

My phone is nearly my most prized possession. And the same goes for my wife, Elizabeth, who

was first to get her iPhone. There are many nights where the two of us will be sitting on the couch, each with our phones in our hand, surfing the Web, watching YouTube, checking Facebook, or, in her case, playing games.

While teasing Jake about his dinosaur of a phone, he made a good point with this statement, “Cell phones like yours are killing human interaction.”

He was right. I didn’t have much of an argument for him. While eating lunch by myself, I am perfectly content reading USA Today on my phone while eating my sandwich. It is not usual for

Elizabeth and I to speak hardly a word to each other on our drives around town. We are both guilty of “iPhoning” while the other person is driving.

At dinner, I have begun to institute no “iPhone” rules at the table. And I know it is not long until I have to have the same talk and rules for the daughters, who both would love to have their own cell phones — but that is not happening at least for another two or three years.

I love technology. I love computers. I love the freedom they offer, and how you can access information from around the world.

But what I don’t want to see happen is for this technology to prohibit human interaction, especially within families. I have walked by too many tables at restaurants where the husband and wife are visiting, while the children sit there with their head down looking at their cell phone and texting away.

I used to loathe seeing that lack of interaction at restaurants, until I quickly realized our family was becoming one of those “cell phone” families, except the folks on the phone where the parents — not the kids.

So, here’s my advice: Put the cell phones away at dinner and in the car and talk with each other.

You will quickly realize how much more enjoyable interacting with each other is, rather than spending all that time on your phone.

Rick Rogers is the publisher of the Neosho Daily News. E-mail him at rrogers@neoshodailynews.com.