I don’t want to be a 3G family

Have you seen the latest Sprint cell phone ad?

A family is visiting a natural history museum – all with their new Sprint phones connected to the 3G  network – whatever the heck that is. The ad tells us they are a 3G family – implying they are the family of the future. A family that is busy doing everything but being focused on each other and enjoying spending time together.

The opening line of the ad is that families can post their trip on You Tube before they even get home. Why? Why would they want to do that? Unless they have footage of a Woolly Mammoth coming back to life, they really don’t need to post their visit to the museum on You Tube and definitely not before they get home. Why can’t they just enjoy spending time together in the museum?

Meanwhile the commercial tells us that Dad is busy ordering tickets to the latest, greatest Broadway show. First off shouldn’t Dad be looking at the exhibit with his kids, not hiding off around a corner ordering things online. Secondly, I’m suspicious that Dad’s not actually ordering show tickets, instead he’s secretly “sex texting” with his girlfriend.

And then the ad tells us that the kids can email pictures of the T-Rex to Grandma.

Poor Grandma. She’s just happy to make her simple big-buttoned Jitterbug cell phone dial out. Does she really need to see immediate photographic evidence of the Tyrannosaurus Rex?

Do Grandma a favor and pay for some prints and GO and Visit Her! Sit on her porch, drink some lemonade and tell her about your trip to the museum. God forbid, modern-day families should communicate in person and not instantaneously!

The final scene in the ad is mom and dad looking at some prehistoric exhibit while their teen daughter is texting to her friends. I think she’s texting: “This is the lamest exhibit ever. I just want to leave. I hate my parents, and I think my dad is cheating on my mom.”

You know what?  I want my kids present and interacting with me when we’re off some place. There will be plenty of time to complain to their friends about our outing when they get home.

I’m not trying to pick on Sprint, but the commercial, which is running ad nauseam right now, happens to epitomize everything that is wrong with American families. It shows what it claims to be a better tomorrow, but I think it actually illustrates the destruction of family life.

Families don’t spend enough time together and when they do, they aren’t focused on the present moment. They are still communicating with the outside world instead of just with their family members.

It’s so annoying to me to watch children play on Nintendo DSs at soccer games instead of cheering on their siblings. I hate to watch husbands and wives twittering away on BlackBerries at restaurants or in church. And I get unbelievably aggravated by parents talking on their cell phones instead of playing with the kids at the playground. I’m outraged by companies saying that’s how life should be.

Earlier this week I spent almost the entire hour I was on the playground with my baby listening to someone else’s 4-year-old tell me all about her family’s life. (They’re expecting a fifth baby. She sleeps in a bed with another child. They’re staying at a relative’s house. Their fish died.) All the while, the young mother talked on her cell phone the entire time her daughter was talking a stranger’s ear off. Clearly this child needed some adult interaction.

Our school has some public service ads on the entry way walls. They show a mom and child in the car not talking but using their individual phones. The copy in the ad is something about “Be present.”  I thought this ad was cheesy the first couple of times I walked by it, but now I think about it all the time. I think about listening more to my children. I think about turning off the TV and not talking on the phone.

I also think about that “Coraline” movie ad. The parents are working on the computers at home when Coraline wants to interact with them. They both tell her not now, I’m working.

I know I am guilty of saying that to my kids, and I’m trying to either work when they’re not at home or at the very least stop what I’m doing to talk to them.

I know that our family life is not perfect (I will admit to sometimes talking on my cell phone while strolling the baby because it makes the four miles go faster), but I absolutely refuse to become a 3G family. I won’t have my kids texting and photographing to the outside world and not engaging with us. I don’t want my husband typing on his Treo when he’s with the family, and I don’t want to be concentrating on other things instead of listening to my children.

The family of the future needs to revert to the past and spend time with their children actually being there – physically and mentally. No one needs to be a 3G family.

Have you seen this ad? Did it strike you as odd? Do you want to be a 3G family? Do you feel like you are in the moment when you are with your kids?

You can reach Theresa at ajcmomania@gmail.com. Ideas and comments are welcome.

11 comments Add your comment

Ron A

March 13th, 2009
10:54 am

I feel your outrage. While watching a (live) TV football game with my son a star player made a great play. My son says “He’s in Madden 2008!”, and gets up to play football on his PlayStation. In my youth we may have gotten up and gone outside to re-enact the play from TV.


March 13th, 2009
11:57 am

Hit the nail on the head. Glad someone is paying attention.

Linda Neebaum

March 16th, 2009
10:35 pm

Remember, there was a lot of resistance from people to switch to cars from horses. Don’t forget the protests of rock n’roll and rap music, too. This is the world we live in today. My family is high-tech, and I like that commercial. It is realistic.
We embrace the conveniences of modern living and yet, still manage to have dinner together (no phones allowed) every night. Lots of verbal communication as well as digital! The best of both worlds.

Stephen Denny

March 24th, 2009
12:28 pm

So funny. Was just having this conversation last week with friends. Mentioned it on The Daily Fix (piece entitled, What’s the Definition of WE?). Glad I’m not the only one who stopped and said, “I really don’t want to be this family… at all…”


April 2nd, 2009
10:28 am

I was about to write about this myself, but then I found you wrote down exactly what I was thinking. Kudos and thank you for writing about this disgusting commercial.


May 3rd, 2009
7:00 pm

“I refuse to adapt to a changing society!”


May 3rd, 2009
9:04 pm

You really need to calm down and get over it. It’s not that bad. Take a chill pill and learn that technology isn’t evil.

Brenna Sowder

May 4th, 2009
4:17 pm

Thank you for this insightful post, I can understand your outrage. Some other readers may have missed the point — technology is not inherently bad, but should be used on balance. Family interaction in a digital world may change, but at the end of the day, sitting down to a nice dinner and remembering how to have a face to face conversation is essential to our lives as humans.


June 22nd, 2009
12:29 pm

Bag1Ux comment4 ,

[...] I don’t want to be a 3G family | A Blog for Busy Moms – MOMania blogs.ajc.com/momania/2009/03/05/i-dont-want-to-be-a-3g-family – view page – cached The new Sprint cell phone ad shows us what is wrong with American family life — we’re not present in the moment. — From the page [...]


September 25th, 2009
4:35 pm

Wow, you are “one of those” moms! If your family is strong, it shouldn’t matter if they use high tech phones or not. Maybey our projecting your fear of your family not being as close as you’d like as a fear of technology. Technology is only a tool… it has no say in how you use it. These high tech phones could be used to make it easier for family members to interact on a more freqeuent basis and in fact it’s had that effect on my family.