back to article Pope instructs followers to put the iPhone away during dinner

Pope Francis has slammed the use of smartphones and warned that they risk damaging family life. Speaking at the Vatican yesterday, the Pontiff noted that the dinner table is where families experience a sense of "togetherness," but that it can be ruined by over-attachment to modern technology. "A family that almost never eats …

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new use for old stuff

Get the toast rack out from the back of the cupboard.

Put it on sideboard.

Make family members (that's you as well) put phone in rack.

Have your meal.

Try to ignore toast rack of shiny.

No matter how much it pings or buzzes.

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Re: new use for old stuff

Then resist the urge to put the annoying things in the toaster once and for all.

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Re: new use for old stuff

Yes, the Pope has stated what we all knew, ie. staring at a glowing slab 23 hours a day might not be too healthy, and actually interacting with people such as your family/friends/house mates might be better, especially around meal times. He's not wrong. Slabbing or reading a book at the table has always been bad manners anyway.

Parents will likely agree with the Pope. Some teenagers (who are, of course, even more infallible than his Holiness) may disagree. Parents! Stand firm!

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This is the time I'm having supper with you guys!

Well, when he's right, he's right. However, I'm having two questions to follow up:

1) Can El Reg please ask HRM (in her capacity as another religious leader) to give us her take on this?

2) Has anyone checked Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks on possible sketches of cellphones yet?

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Burn 'em all

I'm not a Catholic and I honestly think that most religions are really out of touch with the modern world, but damn if I don't agree with him on this.

I recently went out with some friends, none of us had seen each other in years, and it seemed like I was the only one who kept my phone in my pocket...

If you can't hold a conversation over a meal without checking your email/facebook/whatever every five minutes there is something seriously wrong with you.

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Re: Burn 'em all

So we take graeme leggett's suggestion from the first post, change 'toast rack' to 'toaster' and - bingo!

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Mushroom

Re: Burn 'em all

Absolutely.

Or how many times have I seen a family...mother, father, and x number of offspring sitting around a restaurant table, each with some sort of electronic device in their hands, their heads bowed, pecking away at the screen...and no one is talking to anyone else at the table. What a wonderful world this has become.

The dumbing down of society continues.

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Re: Burn 'em all

Or how many times have I seen a family...mother, father, and x number of offspring sitting around a restaurant table, each with some sort of electronic device in their hands, their heads bowed, pecking away at the screen...and no one is talking to anyone else at the table.

Nice. Very sociable. You might as well sit in cupboard eating crisps.

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Expert

Obviously a man without a spouse, or children is and expert on what a family should or should not do.

Can someone just shoot him out of a cannon?

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Re: Expert

Well, we don't demand personal experience in many other fields. Doctors don't need to have had illness, social workers don't need to have children etc.

There are many things to criticise the Catholic church for but this guy seems to be a good one overall. He'll have seen, talked to and helped enough families that he's experienced enough to be able to comment. The fact he's chosen not to go that route himself is really neither here nor there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Expert

The only real difference with this man-in-a-dress-show is, the current dude has much better PR staff.

Same old same old when it comes to abuse and corruption.

Otherwise its all stage managed up the wazoo. Just medieval theatrics desperately looking for modern day relevance.

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Meh

Re: Expert

....social workers don't need to have children.....

That one's a bad example. If they had to, they might just understand what a complete crock of shit "social science"[1] is in this area. "An ounce of practice is worth a ton of theory" has never been more true than it is here.

[1] In quotes, 'cos the word "science" is heavily misused in this context.

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Re: Expert

@David Dawson

I have upvoted you because I agree with most of what you say. Actually, I agree with all of it.

But, I do disagree with some of what the hat-man said. To start with:

"A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family"

Now, as with you, I don't think it's necessary for him to have personally experienced every facet of a situation to comment on it (he was, after all a child with parent even he has no children himself). So I am fine with him giving advice to the effect that we need to communicate with one another and that technology can form a barrier to that just as much as it can facilitate it.

What I am not fine with, however, is to have someone else tell me or anyone else that their family is "hardly a family" just because we don't revere the dinner table as the centerpiece of our homes; as some kind of altar that sanctifies this special rite without which we are "not a family".

At that point, he can keep his opinions to himself.

Analysing it a bit more, however, he has publicly announced that he doesn't use technology or even watch television. And that is fine - admirable even, to some - but now he is speaking about the intersection of two things he is less familiar with than most of the people he is trying to advise.

In my opinion, the lack of a personal experience of technology is the bigger failing here because, as you (David) have said, you don't have to have to be a parent yourself to counsel parents but you very much do have to understand and have some personal experience with technology to be able to advise people about that.

He has rightly said that modern communications can bring people together but the he decides that there is a difference between communicating with family and friends long-distance and communicating with family and friends who might be easier to see face-to-face. What he doesn't understand - or doesn't accept - is that the modern communication he presents as a barrier for families has changed things.

Before the ubiquitous availability of Internet access and use of mobile devices, there was very little opportunity for families (or friends) to communicate with each other through the day and this, naturally puts a large focus on those times when it is possible to have a conversation.

But that was then. Now, families have the ability to communicate very nearly whenever they want. Through social media and mobile phones, I would suspect that many parent know more about their where there children are and who they are friends with and what music and activities they like than they ever did before. Modern communications also allow far more frequent and in-depth information to be provided to parents about what is happening during a school day - I know several teachers (friends and extended family) and they even use Skype to communicate with parents when there are situations where parents cannot be there face-to-face. In Pope Francis' word, however, that information may never get to parents - at least not in a timely fashion as there is then a reliance on children volunteering the information.

Likewise in a world without mobile devices, once a child has left the home, that is it: from that point, you are out of touch until they return.

My somewhat long-winded point is that, while face-to-face communication is still an important part of many relationships, many things that required face-to-face communication no longer do and, moreover, for some things electronic/mobile communication is better because it is more timely.

Look, the man makes a valid point by offering useful advice, but he goes too far in asserting some kind of authority on what is and is not a 'family'*.

* - Even despite his considerably more liberal approach than his predecessors.

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@TeeCee

I am not going to downvote you because that's just not my thing. But I am going to have to disagree with you pretty strongly.

You are quite right that experience is necessary to complement theory and in that regard I suspect you have exactly f^%k all experience with social workers. Now, maybe I'm wrong, and maybe you or someone you know had a bad experience with a social worker - heaven knows they're only human and thus variously good and bad at their jobs, just like teachers and doctors and nurses and IT professionals and welders and whatever it is you do.

But if that is the case then that's where you can't just rely on your own observations and where learning provides a greater perspective to understand a broader range of situations rather than the limited experience that any one person can have.

Now, my experience with social workers is that I, personally, know several, both family and friends, and have dealt with two who were helping people I knew - one a school friend and one a close family member - and can testify that those who are good at their jobs are some of the most dedicated people I know. Indeed, the experience with the two in my youth actually had me change my carrier path from IT to social work, believe it or not. In the end, circumstances changed unavoidably and I had to decline my university acceptance, and after a while I took up IT again, though that is getting off topic a bit.

It's important to understand, however, that social workers work inside a legal framework but, within that, they fight for the people they represent in ways that I doubt you appreciate; advocating for them with medical professionals, hospital and healthcare administrators, government representative, police, landlords, teachers, bosses, parents, and anyone and everyone they need to or can. They argue the rules and, where there is room, they attempt to secure assistance that might otherwise be difficult to obtain - things like extra days in a hospital beds, consideration exams at school, admittance into programs. recognition of extenuating circumstances and so forth.

They will fill out the forms at home at night and deliver them in-person at meetings and hearings, across town and in their lunch breaks, after having spent an entire weekend at the hospital and visiting clients.

A great deal of social work has nothing at all to do with parenting, but even where it does, a social worker is primarily concerned with the well-being of the person whose care they are trusted with. It is certainly true that, when dealing with a family situation (which is not universal in social work,) it is important to understand the dynamics and history of a family. What is not clear, however, is why exactly experience with one single family (your own) provides a suitable or even necessary basis for understanding the complex situations that exist in another family; keeping in mind that a social worker may have to deal with several families in a week and dozens over the course of a year - all unique with unique histories and unique concerns and problems.

And this is where theory - and training - comes in as one must know how to walk into a situation with a family who are strangers and who may even be hostile to you and to go from there to a position where you are able to not only understand the problems and opportunities but to then work with or, sometimes - regrettably - in opposition to them to achieve the best outcome.

That's not a skillset that simply being a parent provides you with, just as it doesn't provide you with the necessary training and knowledge of the (complex) legal and regulatory landscape that you must operate in.

So really, I do agree that "practice" and "experience" are essential components to the development of a social worker, but that practice is the practice of social work and that experience is the experience of the situations in which a social worker must operate.

The suggestion that social workers, trained an experiencing in social work are somehow less able to do their job and advocate and assist those in their care is as ignorant and it is insulting.

I don't know you but I hope you never have need of a social worker. But, if you do then I hope you get some small appreciation for the job they do and how dedicated the vast, vast, majority of them are and how utterly wrong you were to dismiss the level or care and concern and sheer hard work that they bring to achieve positive outcomes.

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@AC

"Just medieval theatrics desperately looking for modern day relevance."

And what, is wrong with that? I am no friend to the catholic church and have no favour for religion in general. My personal opinion is that, while some people find it useful and comforting, it is a crutch that we, as a species, would be ultimately better off without, once all is weighed. The transition may be painful and difficult for some but I firmly believe that, in time, a world without religion will be a better world than one with it.

But that is just my opinion and I know others think very differently. I am not arguing with them so much as presenting my own view as a disclaimer to what I am about to say, which is that I am sick of people like you, who ridicule the Catholic Church's lack of relevance* and then lambast their attempts to become more relevant.

People like you denounce them for adhering to religious dogma but then turn around denounce them even more soundly when they try to change.

To an extent I do understand a part of the criticism because the Catholic Church has indeed set itself rules that in some cases work to preclude them from being as responsive to modern values and as accepting of the far greater breadth of people and ways of life of those who call themselves Catholic as many believe they should be.

But in this, I actually have a measure of sympathy for them because their history has in a sense painted them into a corner. There are, of course, many who are ultra conservative, which, despite the apparently world-wide love-in, was seen no better than in John Paul II and Benedict. But no one ever said progress must be straight and steady, with no halts or set backs.

Things like this change slowly and what you should understand is that the papacy is not just one "man-in-a-dress" - it's a complex political institution and the pope does not operate in isolation and is certainly not elected by anything other than a thoroughly political process. So the choice of who is to be pope can be seen to reflect a decision by the cardinals on where they want the church to be heading.

I feel that it is particularly relevant to note that, prior to his election, the then Cardinal Bergoglio spoke out about a great many issues he saw with the bureaucracy of the Vatican (in particular the Italian-dominated Curia) , including, quite specifically the corruption. And yet he was put in a position to start addressing those issues, for example inside the Vatican Bank.

I know the preceding paragraphs may come across as as support for the church or a devotion to a "man-in-a-dress", but it is not.

The Catholic Church is far from spotless and they may never redeem themselves, but to discount any efforts to improve themselves and better represent the millions of Catholics that look to them for guidance and support is to insist that they shouldn't change - that you won't accept any change; that no matter what they do, you will judge them always by what they were rather than what they are or what they are working to become.

What comes of it is another question but the Catholic Church is not, contrary to your assertion, the same as it in the 15th and 16th or even the 19th century and, if it survives and manages to stay relevant then it will not look the same in the 22nd century as it does in the 21st.

* - Despite the fact that it is very relevant to a great many people.

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Re: Expert

And wouldn't it make much more sense if Secretaries of State had some experience in their field? To be fair, a few do, but is it any surprise that the most reviled Education Secretary of modern times - Michael Gove - is a journalist by training, whose sole experience of education was as a pupil at a private school? And now they've given him the Lord Chancellor role. What the heck? (Ok, so most teachers I know would cite his superior attitude first, but his lack of background knowledge comes a close second).

Gove's predecessor - Ed Balls - was hardly better, with a degree in economics, and his successor, Nicky Morgan, is a solicitor. They have all been privately educated at secondary school level (Gove by means of a scholarship) and their careers outside politics have been somewhat tangential - Balls and Gove were journalists for a while, and Morgan a solicitor.

I could do a similar list for pretty much every other cabinet role, but to return to the original point, I think it's true in general that having children yourself changes your perspective slightly and would make you think differently in a role such as social worker, health visitor, teacher, midwife, it might not necessarily make you any better at your job but from personal experience it certainly helps!

M.

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Re:electronic/mobile communication is better

At the dinner table?

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Re: Expert

I am in two minds on this one - because the Pope has probably been at more family dinners as a guest than the average rabbi has been at Seders.

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Re: Expert

@dan1980

Before the ubiquitous availability of Internet access and use of mobile devices, there was very little opportunity for families (or friends) to communicate with each other through the day and this, naturally puts a large focus on those times when it is possible to have a conversation.

But that was then. Now, families have the ability to communicate very nearly whenever they want. Through social media and mobile phones, I would suspect that many parent know more about their where there children are and who they are friends with and what music and activities they like than they ever did before.

The thing is though, Dan, that communication is all very well, and you are correct that it is easier and more available now, but the ability to communicate is notthe same as proper social interaction, and in particular the close family interaction which you get from regularly eating together or gathering together.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the children of families who set aside time to get together regularly are more confident socially, and in particular young children's language acquisition and literacy development are much better in families who regularly eat together than in children from families who rarely spend time together.

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Re: Expert

> [1] In quotes, 'cos the word "science" is heavily misused in this context.

Good point - I remember an article I read a few years back (OK, a few decades back) which made a good (and amusing) case for considering the adjective "social" to be a form of negative.

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Re: Expert

> ... close family interaction which you get from regularly eating together ...

"Stop answering back! And don't talk with your mouth full!"

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Re: Expert

Well says you. If you expect me to pay attention to somebody lecturing somebody on what their children should be doing then personally I'd like to know they've got some. Likewise a bunch of celibates telling the world that contraception is evil, again not my bag. Still you've got to keep the women down somehow, eh?

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Happy

Re: Expert

No, it's not a dress. You darn well know that, but I'll give you chapter and verse anyway.

It's a cassock, and probably a surplice on top of that. It's based on the vestis talaris which civilized, (and rather macho Romans) were wearing while trouser-clad barbarian types were still figuring out how to get the lice out of their beards. How is it that no-one suggests that Caesar was wearing a dress while his be-skirted legionaries were knocking the crap out of the Britons?

You might just as well refer to a navy seal in battledress as wearing panties and a chemise instead of boxer shorts and camo jacket - the descriptions are equally inaccurate.

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Re: Expert

There are many things to criticise the Catholic church for but this guy seems to be a good one overall

Benny's a good egg. Even if he is Argentinian.

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Times change

But people don't.

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Put the iPhone away?

So it's out then? The Pope is a stinkin' Android fan.

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Re: Put the iPhone away?

Android? Nah. He goes for exclusivity and chooses a Windows Phone. The blues and purples are much more religious than those stinking icons used on iDevices and Androids.

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Devil

Re: Put the iPhone away?

"He goes for exclusivity and chooses a Windows Phone."

You forgot the obligatory icon.

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Devil

Why no mobile in DaVinci's picture?

'Cos it would have been obvious who snitched to the authorities about Jesus' location.

The pope's right of course. Not about the robe thing, though, that just make you look a bit daft.

I taught some kids today. Attention spans of a gnat and behaviour I'd never have contemplated at their age.

I blame tech and industry. Not just hi-tech and the internet, basic TV too. Too much emotional programming, to much on-demand satisfaction. To many parents out at work for too long then watching tv at home, depriving children of adult company and social interaction.

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Re: Why no mobile in DaVinci's picture?

Sixth from the left. Listening but not directly looking at the apostle to their left. Tell me they're not updating their facebook status with their hidden hand.

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"Why is it people not having sex are telling other people how to have sex?"

(c) Andy Parsons

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Reminds me of the old pope joke...

"You no play-a da game, you no make-a da rules."

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Not just the dinner table

But crossing the road.

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Terminator

Re: Not just the dinner table

I use the term "iZombie" for those who walk along, concentrating on their phones, utterly oblivious to anything (or anyone) in their path.

I have an overwhelming urge to shoulder them as I avoid them, but, being an adult, I repress it...for now.

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Alert

Headline news

Is the typo in the headline for this story deliberate?

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Headline news

Is the typo in the headline for this story deliberate?

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The Pope

Should mind his own business and stop dictating his BS to people. Like all religious preachers they all talk bollocks at the best of times.

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Facepalm

Re: The Pope

How is this advice bollocks? Are you still angry because your mother told you to put your phone down during dinner?

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jzl

Re: The Pope

He's not dictating to people. Last time I checked he had no actual power outside the Vatican. He's dictating to his followers and they signed up for it.

Don't like the pope telling you what to do? Stop being a catholic. Simple.

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Re: The Pope

Most of them, especially the children DIDN'T sign up....they were indoctrinated from birth, and never had the chance to reject this evil religion. There is little difference between this and what goes on in Muslim Madrassas.

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jzl

Re: The Pope

"There is little difference between this and what goes on in Muslim Madrassas."

Don't see the Catholics instructing kids that Western education is evil, that the only thing worth doing is memorising a book, that women are property, or that waging neverending war against the infidel is the duty of everyone.

Aside from that, yeah, just like the madrassas.

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jzl

Re: The Pope

"Most of them, especially the children DIDN'T sign up....they were indoctrinated from birth"

While I agree with you, our society generally says adults are adults. Either we accept that they have the ability to consciously change their beliefs, or we drop the silly fiction that adults are responsible for all their own actions all the time. Can't have both.

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Re: The Pope

Time you read the evil bible. A how-to manual of horrible savagery.

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Re: The Pope

Most of them, especially the children DIDN'T sign up....they were indoctrinated from birth, and never had the chance to reject this evil religion.

And why shouldn't parents indoctrinate their kids? That's what parents are for. My parents "indoctrinated" me with plenty of stuff, most of which turned out to be true and very useful.

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Apostles outsourced?

I see we seem to have lost some, have they been outsourced or are they using the devil's OS android?

Intructs?

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