Learning how to use the phone

The forgotten magic of the phone call

Remember the era when the home telephone, perched on its little table, was the pulsating heart of family communications? The eager anticipation of dialling a number, waiting for that ‘ring-ring’, and the sweet victory when someone at the other end picked up? Ah, those were the days when phones were for, well, *phoning* people! Fast forward to today and our little digital prodigies are swiping, texting, and emoji-bombing their way through life, but the simple, old-school phone call has been left on read.


From ring tones to text tones

The tides of technology have changed the way we communicate, as swiftly as a text message delivering an instant reply. The phone call, once the king of communication, now seems more like a relic in our children’s digital kingdom. It’s been dethroned by snappy texts, laughing emojis, and the ability to respond (or not) at one’s leisure. Our kids are more likely to have their noses buried in a thrilling game of ‘Minecraft’ or be engrossed in a TikTok dance-off than make a phone call. And why not? It’s quick, easy and conveniently silent (parents, rejoice!). But before we toss out the old rotary phone with the bathwater, let’s dial back and discover why phone calls still hold an important place in our digital world.


Reasons kids should learn to speak on the phone


Skill development

Each ring of a phone is more than just a call to conversation; it’s a call to cultivate essential life skills. By regularly engaging in phone conversations, kids can fine-tune their ability to listen actively, articulate thoughts clearly, exercise patience, and empathise with others. It’s akin to a mini masterclass in communication skills, with each call acting as a valuable lesson. Encourage your kids to pick up the phone and chat – it’s practice that pays dividends in their future interactions.


Rich communication

Texting may be quick and easy, but it falls short of replicating the human touch that comes with voice calls. Phone conversations paint a vibrant picture with the palette of tone, tempo, and timbre that text messages can’t capture. Guiding your child to recognise and respond to these verbal cues can greatly enrich their communication abilities and deepen their understanding of others.


Resolution of misunderstandings

“Wait, what did you mean by that?” – a phrase all too familiar in the world of text-based conversations. Texts can often be misinterpreted, causing confusion or even conflict. A timely phone call can help kids clarify misunderstandings swiftly and express themselves more accurately. So, next time a text conversation seems to be going awry, encourage your child to make a call and clear the air.


Formal appointments

“Hello, I’d like to book a table for six, please.” Making formal appointments or reservations over the phone is an essential life skill. It’s an opportunity for kids to practice politeness, clarity, and assertiveness. Turning these phone calls into regular tasks can prepare kids for adult responsibilities, making them more confident and capable in the real world.


Authentic connection

While it’s nice to receive a smiling emoji, it’s far more heartwarming to hear a loved one’s laughter on the other end of the line. The human connection forged through phone calls is precious and deeply personal. Teach your kids the value of this authentic connection. A phone call to grandma or a long-distance friend could just make their day.


Thinking on one’s feet

A rapid-fire Q&A with a friend, a sudden change of plans – these unexpected scenarios in phone calls don’t offer the luxury of backspacing or drafting the perfect response. They teach kids to think on their feet, make decisions quickly, and even negotiate when needed. This is real-time training for real-life situations – invaluable practice for future personal and professional engagements. So, go on, encourage your kids to dial those digits and embrace the unexpected!


Case study:

Founder and CEO of Bean Ninjas, Meryl Johnston, describes how small acts of independence made her a more confident individual.

“As small children we were encouraged to answer the phone and make phone calls. I can remember back when I was 9 years old my mum was in hospital. I wanted to call to speak with her and so my dad said that I needed to make that call myself. I needed to talk with the hospital reception, share her name and room number and ask to speak with her.

“At the time it was a scary experience, but it was through regular practice with conversations like this that I became confident in talking with adults and seeking out information I needed.”

Can you remember when you first used the telephone? What about doctors and dentist appointments, when did you start booking your own? Do you practice any other ways of developing confidence and independence? Let us know your story.


Overcoming the fear of the phone: From hesitation to conversation

Let’s face it – for some kids, making a phone call can feel as nerve-wracking as standing on a stage. The fear of saying something wrong, the pressure of responding immediately, and the dreaded awkward silences can seem intimidating. But don’t worry, these fears can be overcome! Start small, perhaps with a call to a relative who’s more forgiving of fumbles. Practice role-playing scenarios, allowing kids to rehearse what they want to say. Use guided activities like preparing a script for ordering pizza or making an appointment. Gradually, your child will become more confident and comfortable. Remember, the more they dial, the more they smile!


Answering the call for more calls

So, are we ready to ring in the change? It’s high time we dusted off the good old voice call and reintegrated it into our children’s lives. Sure, it might feel a tad old-fashioned in this world of swift swipes and speedy texts, but the benefits of a good old chinwag on the blower are undeniable. As parents, educators, or simply grown-ups who remember the joy of a long chat over the telephone, let’s encourage our youngsters to pick up the phone and dial. After all, you never know what fun, learning, or adventure might be waiting at the other end of the line!