Emma Colonna wishes her parents would behave, at least when they're out in public. The ninth-grade student in Port Washington, N.Y., says she has caught her parents typing emails on their Treos during her eighth-grade awards ceremony, at dinner and in darkened movie theaters. "During my dance recital, I'm 99% sure they were emailing except while I was on stage," she says. "I think that's kind of rude."
Um, if you seriously need family therapy because you can't ignore your office email for a few hours a day, you might have bigger problems. Like lack of a spine to tell your boss that the work-week is Monday thru Friday. But I can't exactly talk, since I have been known to occasionally check my work mail from home on the weekends or evenings -- but not to that extent!
Some mental-health professionals report that the intrusion of mobile email gadgets and wireless technology into family life is a growing topic of discussion in therapy. They have specific tips for dealing with the problem, like putting the device in a drawer during a set time period every day. "A lot of kids are upset by it," says Geraldine Kerr, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Morristown, N.J. She says parents need to recognize that some situations require undivided attention. When you shut off the device, she says, "You're communicating nonverbally that 'you matter and what's important to you is important to me.' "
Still, like teenagers sneaking cigarettes behind school, parents are secretly rebelling against the rules. The children of one New Jersey executive mandate that their mom ignore her mobile email from dinnertime until their bedtime. To get around their dictates, the mother hides the gadget in the bathroom, where she makes frequent trips before, during and after dinner. The kids "think I have a small bladder," she says. She declined to be named because she's afraid her 12- and 13-year-old children might discover her secret.
We'll see what happens when I get myself a Treo.
Update: I forgot to include the link to an eleven-month-old NPR story that I heard about this as well. You can find (and listen to it) here.
I still want one.