Dear Abby: I am writing about the letter from ďHolding My Tongue,Ē the woman who was upset because many children were playing with electronic devices during her grandchildrenís school concerts and recitals. While I agree most kids should pay attention to the event at hand, as the mother of two children on the autism spectrum, I have a different perspective.
There are apps and games designed to keep these kids occupied and help them deal with the stress and anxiety of being in a large group. I should not have to leave my sons at home because theyíre on the spectrum, so a harmless, quiet game that allows them to participate without being disruptive is a godsend.
Sometimes itís not obvious WHY someone is doing something; so as long as it isnít disruptive, please try to be tolerant.
Laura in Pennsylvania
Dear Laura: Your point is well-stated, and was one made by a number of parents of children with special needs. Readers had interesting comments on this topic, so Iím sharing a few:
Dear Abby: If thereís a possibility young children could be unruly during a performance, I think they should be allowed to use a tablet or something to keep them occupied.
Sometimes itís hard to find a sitter or afford one. When children get dragged to programs they have no interest in, they lose patience and become fidgety. If given something to occupy their attention, as long as it has headphones, then I donít see a problem. Iíd rather have that than kids shouting, screaming and crying because theyíre unhappy being there.
Understanding in Louisiana
Dear Abby: In this digital age, we have lost touch with basic common decency and respect for others. I not only notice this in children, but adults as well. I have seen people check their emails while they are in church, or couples sitting together at a restaurant, both fixated on their electronic devices and not speaking a word to each other.
Itís sad to imagine what the next generation will be like if we donít start putting the devices down and interacting with each other again like human beings. I raised all three of my kids this way, so I know itís not impossible.
Maintaining Human Contact
Dear Abby: When my precious mother passed away last summer, my sister-in-law brought two handheld games to the funeral. My niece and nephew played and played while the pastor spoke about my mother.
It was the last straw for me in a series of incredibly rude actions over the years. My children were also appalled. When respect is no longer taught at home, we sink to the lowest level as a society.
Debra on the East Coast
Dear Abby: I have stopped attending my friendsí grandchildrenís recitals because I, too, cannot tolerate rudeness. Many parents today just donít want to bother with their children. If there is a toy that can keep them busy, their parents ďenableĒ them to grow up as idiots who canít appreciate the world and its beauty because their world is lived entirely on an electronic screen.
George in South Carolina
Dear Abby: What parents who allow this type of behavior donít seem to understand is that it transfers to the classroom. Their children assume itís OK to ignore the teacher, the lesson and instructions that in some cases could save a life.
Frustrated Educator in Miami
Dear Abby: I used to conduct workshops for teachers on how to instruct with newspapers. When I started my lecture, I would begin by saying, ďOK, teachers, turn off your iPads, iPhones and iPods, because I donít want to become iRate.Ē They loved it, and it was a great kickoff for the lecture.
Alfred in Texas
Write Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.