At a band concert for students in grades 4-6, a family sat in front of me. During the concert, the mother showed her son (who looked to be about 3 years old) a video on their Ipod touch with the sound turned on. The father handed his daughter his cell phone with a game turned on. The little girl (about 8 years old) played the game through the national anthem and then entire concert. I found both behaviors to be really distracting to my enjoyment of the concert and also very rude to the kids who worked so hard to prepare.
What could I have said at the intermission? Is it really acceptable to allow concert attendees to occupy themselves on cell phones, especially when it is distracting and obvious to the other attendees?
From: Concerned teacher, Oxford, MA
Dear Concerned Teacher,
This sure is a sad commentary on our times, isn't it? This behavior is troubling on so many levels: the lack of respect it shows to others in the audience and to the performers (including, presumably, a sib), as well as the fact that the parents presumably assume their kids would have no patience or tolerance for the concert. If ever there was a self-fulfilling prophesy in the making..... What's the worst that could happen? They'd squirm a bit? Need to sit on mom or dad's lap? How else will they ever build up the muscle for attending performance events?
No, I wouldn't have said anything to them at the time unless you have a personal relationship with them and could have used humor in your approach. In the moment, the best you could have done was to move.
But you're not as powerless as you think. I suggest talking to your principal or to the PTO about establishing a policy of no personal electronic devices on school grounds or at school events for children or parents.
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