The other night my teenaged daughter and I were out to dinner and the family sitting in the booth directly across  from us had apparently caught her attention because I noticed her continually looking over at them for the first fifteen minutes that we were in the restaurant. When I asked her what she was looking at, she replied "check them out...the kids have been on their cells texting the whole time that we have been here.. they haven't talked to their parents at all and the parents haven't said one word to the kids either, they are just talking across the table to each other". I glanced over and sure enough, Johnny and Susie were texting away while mom and dad quietly chatted to each other. That scene in and of itself was not too unusual but what happened over the next hour or so was. What happened is that nothing changed. The server brought the beverages and the kids were texting. He brought their meals and the texting continued. They even ate their dinners and those text messages kept flying...while they were eating...I realized that kids today have mastered with ease the art of eating with one hand while texting with the other. Dessert was even brought, the check was paid, mouths were wiped and the entire meal was over with , but sadly the texting never was. I could not help but think to myself ..how sad. Honestly , is this the point we have come to?  A whole family goes out together to enjoy a meal , a dinner experience yet in reality mom and dad could have been sitting at the other end of the resaurant from the kids and they basically would have had the same experience . Folks, families have stopped talking to each other....not all famlies of course, but I am seeing  more and more of this type of scene played out time and again in today's world. My family and friends will be the first to tell you that I am a tech challenged individual..one of the true tech dinosaurs roaming around in our high tech society of 2009 , yet I appreciate all of the benefits that come  with technology advances. What is frightening however is how today's technology is affecting our youth particularly in the area of how they communicate to others or how they do not. I recognize that we cannot blame technology for what occured with that family in the restaurant as it was the parents' responsibility to tell their kids to put their cells away, but those kids being seemingly addicted to texting that evening points to an even broader issue in general which is that our kids today are losing the ability to talk face to face, eyeball to eyeball with other human beings. I have read several articles as of late written by human resource departments in companies across America who are complaining that today's generation, today's college graduates are doing extremely poorly in the interviewing process. Oh, they fly through the initial steps of on line applications, writing resumes and the such but the panic  button starts blinking when they actually reach the step of being called in for a face to face interview. Companies are reporting that the prospective applicants, these young bright people with seemingly bright futures and great potential are wilting in the face to face interview process. They are avoiding eye contact, they are mumbling, talking too softly, and giving an overall impression of awkwardness, nervousness and a lack of confidence. Why is this happening? I submit to you that it is because we have a generation of young people who are growing up communicating completely differently than any other generation before them. This lack of ability to communicate is not just showing up in their professional lives, but in their personal lives as well. Young men will be bold and brash and show all kinds of bravado when facebooking , texting, e-mailing young ladies but will not even consider approaching her in person to have a real conversation. The days of young men nervously pacing back and forth as they work up the courage to walk up to a young lady to ask her out or to show her that he is interested in her are a thing of the past. Now,what takes place is he will ask a friend to get her e-mail address, her facebook name, or her cell number. Young ladies should beware however because he most likely will not actually call and have an audible conversation where he can hear her voice and visa versa...no, that is a bit too scary, but he will text her in a heart beat. Many readers will be thinking "So what? What is the big deal?" ..well the big deal is that the young men are taking the safe, squirelly route. My husband and I tell our daughter all the time that if the only way a young man desires to communicate with her is through texting, then that is a fast indicator that she can scratch him off the list immediatley. A young man who either cannot or will not boldly approach others with a firm handshake, a direct look in the eye and a confident conversation is a young man who is lacking something crucial in his character. The truth is that we as a society are to blame. Far too many parents are allowing their teens to communicate silently and so much is lost in silent communication. We don't hear the tone of voice, the inflections,  the small chuckle or giggle, the sigh, the emotion in the voice and I could go on and on. Young people today are not developing the skill of regular old fashioned conversation and I fear that they are weaker , less competent, and more easily intimidated people because of it. What can we do about this problem? As parents, as teachers, as the adult figures in their lives, we need to be encouraging them at every turn, every opportunity to communicate directly , verbally with others. This is not to say that there is never a more appropriate time to text, because there is- sometimes an audilbe phone call is not as convenient or appropriate as a text would be for a variety of reasons, but we should be endeavoring to encourage our young people to not make it their primary mode of communication. Let's start trying to help this generation of silent communication begin to speak up to where they can have a conversation without pushing buttons - it will be worth the effort !