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younger relatives don't do conversation

(103 Posts)
nanafunny Mon 20-Mar-23 10:26:37

having been invited to visit my niece and her husband the other evening, I was made to feel uncomfortable because after being welcomed in, both returned to their social media and I was sitting there feeling old and insignificant

Fleurpepper Mon 20-Mar-23 10:32:40

this is awful, I would have left, I think. We often see young people who have 'taken out' mum or granma for lunch, and then stay on their phone throughout the meal. So so sad- I have come so close a few times to saying something- but zipped it.

Or music on loud.

NanaDana Mon 20-Mar-23 10:39:56

Yes, I'm afraid that there is a tendency for people to be immersed in their own, private social media-based worlds, to the exclusion of what used to commonly be referred to as "normal conversation". I recently went out for a pub lunch with my OH, and was rather saddened by the sight of a family of 5 on an adjacent table, Mum, Dad and three children aged around 10 to early teens, each head down into their own smart phones, totally oblivious of each other. They may as well have been on different planets. This type of sight is becoming increasingly common, and does make me worry about the wider implications not just for family cohesion, but for society at large. Yes, there are positives to what the internet can provide, but are these being outweighed by the negatives? Perhaps.

Littleannie Mon 20-Mar-23 10:40:27

Every time we are invited to my husband's daughter's house for a family gathering, the grandchildren and great grandchildren sit there all evening texting etc on their phones, talking to nobody. Us two oldies sit there on our own, and nobody talks to us. I have disliked it for years. Last Boxing Day my husband decided we wouldn't go. I was so relieved.

Fleurpepper Mon 20-Mar-23 10:45:05

NanaDany- we saw this last year in Italy! At dinner table, dad takes phone out, then mum, then 2 teenage boys- and the younger child, about 9, no phone, was just left to sit there. I could have cried, and was so tempted to go and get him and ask him to have dinner with us. But you can't do this ... can you?

However, if it happened to me- I hope I would have the guts to say quietly, and with a smile 'thanks for the invite, I will go home now'. And quietly walk out.

AskAlice Mon 20-Mar-23 10:46:42

I saw a sad sight the other week in a supermarket cafe. Mum with very newborn-looking baby. Mum was scrolling on the phone with baby in the crook of her arm and the baby's bottle held under Mum's neck to feed it!

Tenko Mon 20-Mar-23 10:58:26

I’ve always banned phones from the dinner table . It’s one of our rules both at home and in restaurants. When we visit my dm 87 my AC wouldn’t dream of using their phones unless researching something for my mum .
I was on a train at half term and witnessed a family going up to london for the day . All on their phones . It makes me sad

Beechnut Mon 20-Mar-23 11:16:03

I believe I’ve mentioned this before. I took several people out for afternoon tea and one of them spent a great deal of time on a phone conversation with a building material supplier. After finishing conversation, went on to take some photos and posted on social media. Two things came out of that afternoon. One was that the rest of us in the party really knew what happened on the ‘such fun afternoon’ and the other resulted in a very upsetting phone conversation between another invitee and their sibling.

M0nica Mon 20-Mar-23 11:16:49

A year or two back, I saw a set of grandparents taking their 8-10 year old grandson around the Science Museum in Oxford. They needn't have bothered, his eyes never rose from his phone.

Mind you, if he had been mine, some Grandma rules would have come into play that either left the phone at home or in a bag/pocket.

Thankfully, it is not a problem we have had. DGC's parents lead by example. They use their phones for information and communication, rarely, if ever for entertainment. In the house they are just left lying around and rarely used.

Fleurpepper Mon 20-Mar-23 11:56:26


I’ve always banned phones from the dinner table . It’s one of our rules both at home and in restaurants. When we visit my dm 87 my AC wouldn’t dream of using their phones unless researching something for my mum .
I was on a train at half term and witnessed a family going up to london for the day . All on their phones . It makes me sad

I am very grateful that our ACs have that rule with our grand-children. Always have, whether we are there or not. They are teenagers now, and just would not dream being on their phones when at dinner table, here or there, or anywhere.

Honestly, it is the parents fault if they are! Part of a good home education.

Kate1949 Mon 20-Mar-23 12:10:03

Our granddaughter is in her 20s and talks non stop! She always has, telling us all her news with great enthusiasm. It's wonderful.

Fleurpepper Mon 20-Mar-23 12:19:40

TBH, I wish some journalist saw this thread and published some of the comments.

Damdee Mon 20-Mar-23 12:25:22

If I was the original poster of this thread, I would've said to niece and husband, in a nice way - 'well I am not sure what you invited me for if you are both going to be on your phones so are we going to chat, or if not I will leave.' With family or friends I can't see why people can't be upfront and say what they are thinking.

sodapop Mon 20-Mar-23 12:30:29

Quite honestly nanafunny I find that extremely rude as you were their guest.
I don't think we can generalise and say all younger people don't converse. I think it's more about good manners and consideration for others.

biglouis Mon 20-Mar-23 12:34:24

Yes I would certainly have said something. Inviting someone over and then staring at a phone (in such a way as to exclude them) is so ignorent. No wonder these people have no social skills or vocabulary other than memes and emoticons.

Just before the pandemic I was at a hotel in Venice and everyone spent their breakfast staring at phones. There was one couple who were planning their route for the day and each staring at their phones. It was surprising they didnt start texting one another rather than talking.

Having said that phones are a boon when you are on your own in a pub or restaurant and waiting for service or a companion. They give you something to do.

Doodledog Mon 20-Mar-23 12:45:28

I think a lot depends on what was meant by 'returned to their social media'. If they were scrolling through FB or typing replies to threads on Gransnet I'd agree that it was rude, unless they wanted to show the OP a photo of a family baby or something. If, OTOH, they were glancing at a notification, it's probably different. I would be unlikely to reply to messages in company, other than maybe to say something like 'yes, sounds good, but catch you later - I have people over', but these things are tricky. There doesn't seem to be a new etiquette, and it's as easy to be in trouble for 'not responding' to a message as it is for replying and being 'on social media'. There are those who see glancing at a text as very rude, and others who think the lack of an immediate reply to a message is ghosting.

I think in the circumstances described in the OP I would have tried to make conversation myself, rather than wait for them to entertain me, and leave in the (probably unlikely) event that that didn't work.

Norah Mon 20-Mar-23 12:58:24

We've 'your phone is off at our table' rule - they manage quite well.

Hithere Mon 20-Mar-23 12:59:09


May I ask what you have in common?

Hobbies, believes, etc?

karmalady Mon 20-Mar-23 13:08:19

I feel lucky, all my AC and their teenage children pay me full attention and we have very good conversations. Not a phone in sight.

Not all younger people are self-centred and glued to social media and phones

M0nica Mon 20-Mar-23 13:10:13

May I ask what you have in common? Hobbies, believes, etc?

Is that necessary? OP had been invited around by the niece and DH. presumably they have relatives and family in common, plus ordinary small talk about weather, current events, tv, media etc.

I have never been in this situation, only observed it happening when out. As a family we all talk non-stop, but if I was at an event and no-one was talking, all with heads in phones, I would quietly leave the room and go home. I have so many other things I can occupy my time with.

LRavenscroft Mon 20-Mar-23 13:14:03

This is the very reason why I stopped inviting a certain cousin and her family around for dinner or tea. Just plain rude.

TerriBull Mon 20-Mar-23 14:01:32

It is definitely changing behaviour, not for the better imo, the art of conversation may well be lost further down the line. I've also observed youngish children, obviously quite resigned to the fact that parents aren't switched on to them at all so just don't bother, it kind of reminds me of the learned behaviour we read about some years ago, babies in Romanian Orphanages just didn't cry because sadly it had all ready registered in their tiny minds that to do so was futile, no one came to pick them up.. It's really sad. One of my children is far worse than the other in that respect, when we had a family met up a while back his brother remarked, "he and I haven't seen each other for ages, but he's scrolling through his phone rather than talking to the rest of us" I was annoyed too we were in a restaurant at the time, I think it's rude quite honestly sad I won't have it my dining room, absolutely no phones at the table.

I remember being in a garden centre when a young child absolutely fascinated by the fish in the aquarium section, for what seemed several minutes "hey mum look at these fish" over and over, she just wouldn't get her face out of her phone. The child was quite small, I wanted to say to her "he won't always have that awe and wonder, it's a brief window childhood and you're missing the best bits" but of course I didn't but that was the conversation I was having in my head sad

Hithere Mon 20-Mar-23 16:01:31

If there something in common, future visits will go better.

It sucks it was this unpleasant but it is a learning opportunity

Theexwife Mon 20-Mar-23 16:09:42

If someone was using their phone in my company I would assume that it is more interesting than I am.

eddiecat78 Mon 20-Mar-23 16:17:08

I have to say that this is not just youngsters! Often when our 4 year old grandson is here I will play with him whilst his mum - and his grandpa - look at their phones. He must be growing up thinking that phones are more important than him