I had a conversation recently with some parents of young children.  They were debating when or if to give their offspring a personal cell phone.  When was the time right?

This led us into a discussion about ‘back in the day’ when we were young.  Of course there were no cell phones, but instead pay phones were prevalent.  They were at every establishment: the mall, movie theaters, skating rinks, etc., and it was easy to have a dime in your pocket and call your parents when you were ready.  Or, more likely, you had a pre-arranged pick-up time and ready or not, you were ready.  Such is not the case today.

The last time I saw a functioning pay phone was when I was at the MLKing National Historic Site in Atlanta.  It was so startling to me that I took a picture of it.  It was like seeing a typewriter on someone’s desk instead of a computer.  

Then last week, I saw a form for the Post Office that said “long distance charges may apply.”  Are there still long distance charges?  Never do I hesitate to call someone to avoid charges.  (Note that both relics were associated with the government!)  Maybe I could use a long-distance phone card at the pay phone when I made my call??

Few things have evolved more explicitly than the telephone.  Cell phones have become an essential item for a majority of people, so much so that parents are considering options for 10 year olds who may need them (as they are left home alone with no landline).

How has your organization responded to this changing technology?  Have you acknowledged that younger and younger customers are using phones everyday?  This may cause you to embrace texting or to stand out with hand-written notes instead, but take a conscious moment to consider the implications of adolescents with a computer in their pocket.

— beth triplett

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