Teens and Texting - Elderly Americans Speak Out

Octogenarians and nonagenarians offer advice about teens, texting and our diminishing art of conversation

Northlake (I-Newswire) December 3, 2013 - After her whiplash injury, Shirley has learned to quickly spot other drivers carelessly texting or phoning while in traffic. She will change lanes, even steer so she's behind a texter.

She should know something about defensive driving during the digital age. After all, Shirley's 90.

The Oak Park, Illinois, native joined other five seniors in sharing observations and advice about teenagers and the worldwide obsession with mobile devices and texting.

"My parents," she admits, "didn't even have a phone in our house."

Participating were residents of Presence Casa San Carlo, an independent senior living community of Presence Health in Northlake, Illinois.

While each said their great grandchildren show courtesy and leave phones out of sight while visiting, each also feels disheartened when they see certain young people not following that practice.

"Texting is superficial," Shirley believes. "Young people miss out on getting to know others face-to-face. The chance for interpersonal interplay is lost."

Besides, she says a proven origin of crime is the teenager starting a texting relationship with someone else whom they don't know, or, aren't aware of the real age or intent of the person on the other side.

Eileen, 95, a mother of six who grew up on a north suburban farm, remembers her wall-mounted "crank" phone and the eight-person party line her family had to endure, sometimes humorously.

"There were at times six or seven farm wives all gabbing at once. That produced a lot of silent laughs as a teenager because I'd be secretly listening in."

She feels today's teens who bury themselves in their phones "aren't noticing all the beauty that surrounds them. They keep in touch, yes. But they aren't really in touch. Exchanging ideas and listening to the other side are important. You cannot do that very well through text messages."

For Russ, who turns 90 in May, learning good verbal skills as a youth helped catapult him from a high school job as an apprentice printer to a top sales position to eventually becoming the owner of the same printing company.

"I made a lot of money being a good conversationalist. Come on strong with people. It doesn't cost anything to sit and talk face-to-face."
His 25-year old granddaughter ascended from manager of a small restaurant to a location manager of a national rental car chain because "she chose to not hide behind her computer. She takes advantage of her bubbly personality.

"My advice to her? I told her that she has the gift of gab like her grandpa. Use it. Keep your face and your mouth in front of people. If you can do something extra, do it. She still thanks me for that."

He feels teenagers are underutilizing their phones because they often don't bother to connect to the wealth of information available on the web through the same device.

"They're huddled far too much with the thing, and distracted in the wrong way. Instead of spending all that time on pure entertainment, teenagers should use their phones to learn, grow and discover exactly what it takes to land a good job."

Pauline, 85 and from Berwyn, Illinois, thinks youngsters aren't being slowed in verbal skills development as much as they are fundamentally altering the English language.

"Texting and tweeting with all the abbreviations and slang are way overdone," she says.

"Teens are missing out on improving their writing skills and always ensuring they use correct punctuation. Poor writing and careless use of our language will hurt their chances for job advancement."

With five teenage grandsons, one would think Jim, 82, from Chicago's western suburbs would have seen a huge amount of family texting going on the last few years, but he hasn't.

"My family is great about time spent with me," he notes. "I think society actually gains because of all the instant communication enabled by phones. We've come a long way from encyclopedias."
However, he also believes that not all young professionals exhibit good cell phone courtesy.

"When someone sees that their phone is ringing during a job interview and then chooses to answer it and talk is inexcusable."

Lillian, 90, who grew up in Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, brought a different perspective, having had five brothers serve in World War II.

"I was writing each one a letter a week. A sixth weekly letter was sent to my boyfriend who'd become my husband. It got hard. I eventually wrote the same letter to each but changed the greeting. My boyfriend received personal and much longer letters however."

While writing became commonplace for her as a teenager, Lillian says learning to be a good conversationalist has helped her all the way.

"You learn to get to know people, how they feel through facial expressions. Talking face-to-face helps you better understand the problems others face. Texting to me keeps people too self-centered. Seeing teens text each other across the same room is unbelievable."

She admits she could have used today's technology offered through the military during World War II.

"What about all my letters to my brothers during the war, and to my future husband? If invented then, I would have worn out webcam."

About Presence Casa San Carlo

The Presence Casa San Carlo Retirement Community is located in Northlake, Illinois, and is a senior    More..living property owned and operated by Presence Health.Less..

Contact Information

Presence Casa San Carlo
David Reiners
420 North Wolf Road
Northlake IL
Phone : 630-442-8666

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December 3, 2013

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