As hand-held email devices proliferate, they are having an unexpected impact on family dynamics: Parents and their children are swapping roles. Like a bunch of teenagers, some parents are routinely lying to their kids, sneaking around the house to covertly check their emails and disobeying house rules established to minimize compulsive typing. The refusal of parents to follow a few simple rules is pushing some children to the brink. They are fearful that parents will be distracted by emails while driving, concerned about Mom and Dad's shortening attention spans and exasperated by their parents' obsession with their gadgets.Now, for the record, I've stated before that I hate being tethered to my BlackBerry. I do, however, respect the concerns about BlackBerry-ing while driving. A co-worker of mine recently got in a car accident on their way in to work, and may or may not have been checking e-mail at the time. And lord knows how many times I've yelled at a certain friend to put down her BlackBerry while driving -- even if we did need an address or directions. (Let the passenger do it.)
The household tension comes as gadgets like BlackBerrys and Treos -- once primarily tools for investment bankers and lawyers -- have entered the pantheon of devices, including the TV, the personal computer and the cellphone, that have forcefully inserted themselves into the American home. . . . The problem has only gotten worse as more devices combine phone and email. Since people rarely leave home without a cellphone, even events that were once BlackBerry-free are now susceptible to office email.
One of BlackBerry's biggest defenders, Jim Balsillie, the chairman of Research In Motion, says children should ask themselves, "Would you rather have your parents 20% not there or 100% not there?"
Still, I feel absolutely no sympathy for the whiny upper-middle-class children who complain that their parents are distracted by the BlackBerry while sitting at their soccer games or dance recitals or whatever. Jim Balsillie is completely right: Deal with it, Junior. I mean, at least your parents are managing to be at your event -- all while earning enough money to pay for your extracurricular activities, send you to that fancy summer camp, and pay for you to spend five or so years finding yourself at some small liberal arts college before heading on to grad school.
It must totally suck to be you.