Family / Uncategorized

The Evolution of Playing With the Telephone

My kids love phones. Real phones. Toy phones. Imaginary phones. Banana phones. All of it. My twins like to hold objects to their ears and say, “Huh-Wo!” (that’s almost-2-year-old speak for “Hello” in case you couldn’t tell). And my preschooler will have entire conversations on his fake phone, but clams up if you hold a real one to his ear (much to the chagrin of his grandparents). They all love pushing the buttons.

A few interesting things have struck me recently about all this pretend phone play.

1.) How do my kids know that bananas look like old-school phones?

We’ve all done it–put one end of an unpeeled banana up to our ear while the other end rests down by our mouth, just like phones from a few decades ago. They are the perfect shape for emulating a telephone.

Image from photobucket

But the thing is that no phone in my house looks like a banana anymore. In my adult life, I’ve never owned a phone that did. My kids started doing the banana phone trick without me showing them. How do they know this? Is it ingrained in our DNA? Banana = phone. Maybe my kids had past lives in the 1980s? Or maybe they are geniuses? Or maybe they saw it on TV? Who knows.

2.) Technology and pretend phone play

First of all, technological advances have given kids more access to phones. As well as made it easier for them to find shapes that look like phones.

I mean, those poor kids in the early 1900s needed at least two cup-like shapes. Or, perhaps, two fisted hands–one at the ear and one at the mouth. It’s easy to see how tin cans on a string became “phones”.

1900 Phone. (Image from

1910 Phone. (Image from:

Image from photobucket

Of course, the above-mentioned banana shape.

Banana phone! (Image from photobucket)

Cordless phones made it easy for remote controls to become the new pretend phone, not that playing with a remote is any more desirable than letting your kids play with the actual phone. Trust me, as one of the last families on earth to still have a landline, my kids seem to think both the remote and the phone are hot commodities.

Phone (image from photobucket)

Remote "phone" (Image from photobucket)

But now, kids just need a flat rectangular item and BOOM! Phone. Is anything lost with the imaginative strength there? Not sure.

Deck of cards, or phone? (Image from photobucket)

Mommy's MP3 player could also be a phone.

3.) Kids can also do a lot more than just pretend to call grandma.

They can pretend text her. And pretend email her. And pretend to take pictures and videos. And pretend-play Angry Birds. Just the other day my son held his flat palm against his ear and said, “I’m talking on my AT&T Smartphone” and then proceeded to call his cousin to discuss robots.

That’s the future, peeps. Smartphones and robots. Out of the mouths of babes. It’s no wonder by age 5 kids end up better at using technology than their parents. I’m still hung up on the amazingness of banana phones, and my son is Smartphoning his 2 1/2-year-old cousin. Add another one to the list of “Things That Make Me Feel Old.”

Of course, just for fun, banana handsets for iPhones are available. Now I think I’ve seen everything.

Banana handset. Now that's high-tech.

13 thoughts on “The Evolution of Playing With the Telephone

  1. OMG Erin, your little guy is such a cutie!!! We have some old fashioned phones in our house hat actually look like the old ones, but I can definitely see how you wonder where they learn it from. And dang but that banana phone is cute!

  2. This was hilarious! I was amazed how quickly my little ones figured stuff out on the computer. They just grow up with it and think nothing of navigating through technology. When I first wanted to text on my phone, I found a teenager to give me a tutorial. I probably could have asked a preschooler as well.

    • I’ve used rotary phones, but mostly at my grandparents when I was a kid. I remember kind of liking the clicking noises it made as it dialed each number. At home though, I can only ever remember touchtone. I’m sure when I was really little we had rotary phones though.

      I’m sure it’s only a matter of a year or two before my son starts saying, “No, Mom! You do it this way!” when it comes to tech. stuff.

    • I don’t remember the switch from rotary to touch but remember having both as a kid. I remember getting the old rotary as a play phone when it finally gave up the ghost. Fun memories 🙂

  3. Okay, this is interesting. My kids never played with bananas as phones. TV remotes…yes. Actual phones…yes, one kid even managed to call 911 not once but twice :dies: Calculators…yes. Deck of cards…no. Play phones…heck, yeah. They all had a multitude of play phones. Oldest managed to get ten one Christmas alone, LOL.

    But a real banana phone, how cool is that?! Fun post Erin 🙂

    • No banana phone? Maybe my family was just weird (it wouldn’t surprise me 🙂 ).

      Calculators, definitely. And the deck of cards–pretty much anything flat and rectangular has become a phone for my kids. Wooden blocks too. I think they think they look like our touch screen phones. We’ve had a handful of play phones, but not too many.

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