Young mother Kim Marie Martin posted on social media on 11 January that her daughter Natalie called her for the first time from school, using a payphone. When it was time for her to hang up, the girl said she didn’t know how to.
It’s no wonder because the payphone does not have a screen or apps, or even the red icon to click on.
Natalie is part of the tech-savvy iGeneration or iGen who relies heavily on the smartphone for practically everything – from searching for information online to calling for a ride home. It is no wonder the kids cannot figure out how to use a payphone.
“She plays Roblox and Minecraft and even downloads stuff from the app store but she couldn’t hang up a pay phone. I forgot to teach her that part. I just assumed she knew,” Ms Martin tells TheHomeGround Asia.
A payphone or better known as a public phone in Singapore, is one that people make calls from if they pay for the calls first. Many of these phones accept coins but some were modified to accept prepaid phone cards as well. In the 1970s through to the early 2000, payphones were popular, despite the introduction of mobile or cell phones.
This was because coverage then was patchy and there were frequent dropouts. The early mobile phones were huge and bulky, making them rather unattractive. They also cost a lot and were the playthings of only the rich. So it was much more convenient for the rest of the people to use the payphone.
With improvement in the infrastructure that supports mobile phone networks, and the introduction of Apple’s first generation iPhone in 2007, people are turning more to mobile phones. In fact, smartphones have become an integral part of our lives today. Payphones quickly became rare worldwide. It was reported in 2017 that there were only about 2,000 payphones left in Singapore.
In a “Kids React” video by Fine Brothers Entertainment, the producers decided to challenge several kids to use a traditional payphone with hilarious results.
Perhaps like Natalie, these kids become confused about not being able to text, they make fun of the actual button, and are perplexed that people had to physically go somewhere to make a phone call, let alone remembering the numbers of the persons they were going to call.