Thursday, February 03, 2005

Yes, But Can They Hear You?

Today's technology section at the NYT reports that senior citizens are picking up on all the annoying habits of their grandkids, including the ubiquitous cellphone (that's the 'mobile' for you British readers):

Long after cellphones became an annoyance in movie theaters and restaurants, the incessant ringing turned up at an unexpected place: the Holiday Park Senior Center in Wheaton, Md., near Washington.

It started about a year ago, when musical performances and lectures began to be interrupted regularly. The problem got so bad that the 600 people who come daily for various programs had to be reminded to turn off their phones.

"Some doctor would be talking about a disease and a cellphone would start ringing," said Phil Smakula, a supervisor for the county's programs for the elderly and the center's former director. "Most of the time they weren't exactly urgent calls. They were making plans to go to the movies or have dinner with a neighbor."

The cellphone, once viewed by older people solely as a device for use in emergencies, is becoming an everyday convenience. Encouraged by inexpensive calling plans, older Americans are using cellphones to call their grandchildren at college, or to set up a bridge game at their retirement community.

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