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Those Darn Kids: Texting in Museums

March 22, 2013

Often when I visit museums, I overhear bits and pieces of conversations and random comments. Frequently I hear people complaining about kids walking around museums, holding their phones and texting.

Those kids are not paying any attention.?
They?re being disrespectful and not listening.?
How can they be in a museum and not be completely absorbed by the history and art that?s right in front of them??

I have one of those kids. She?s attached to her phone. It?s her connection to the world beyond school and family. I?ll admit that I?ve been frustrated on occasion because I want her to communicate the way I did when I was 15. But, she doesn?t. She is very much of her generation. And, she texts when we?re at museums.

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine who also happens to be the director of a small museum. Our conversation was about kids, cell phones and museums. She said that very often those kids are texting about what they?re doing at that very moment. They?re sharing information about their world. My friend told me that if they?re texting about her museum, that?s great. She says that a kid will listen to another kid and that they?re communicating with each other in a way she never can.

In fact, my daughter volunteers at the Carnegie Museum of Montgomery County. At their recent Pi Day event, she texted some friends about what she was doing that day. Later, those friends came to the museum. It seems to me that we should stop being frustrated by those kids and their phones and embrace the fact that they are our connection to new audiences.

Kids communicate better with each other than with adults. They do what their peers do. They share their cool moments. When those cool moments include museums, they?ll text/tweet/chat about it.

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Tamara Hemmerlein is the Hoosier Heritage Alliance coordinator at IHS. She will be traveling all over Indiana to advocate for good collections stewardship. Tamara loves mashed potatoes and ice cream, but not together.

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