What Kids Learned From Having A Shared Family Phone

Does your home still have a landline? The National Center for Health Statistics reports that nearly half of U.S. households no longer have landlines, with families instead relying on their cellphones. You may not miss your shared family landline, but the fact is that kids today are missing out on learning experiences that come with having one. Children once had the opportunity to learn telephone manners, siblings had to share, and parents had to set boundaries about the use of the phone. Tracy Kurschner, a Minneapolis communications consultant, said she learned how to spell her last name as a toddler by listening to her mother spell it for others on the phone. Sherry Turkle, author of “Reclaiming Conversation” says that overhearing adults’ phone conversations taught children “the nurturing work of adulthood,” such as setting up doctor appointments or checking in on loved ones. The landline also put children into situations where they had to talk with adults, which taught them conversation skills. Turkle adds that many parents miss having “some sense of who was calling your child, or trying to reach your child.” She also recommends parents use the speaker function on their cellphones when children are small, so they can learn that way. (Wall St. Journal)