Can you instantly recite your spouse’s and your children’s cellphone numbers? Trying to remember seven digits used to be easy, but with multiple numbers, passwords, addresses and codes swimming around in our brains, it’s getting tougher. I’m finding more and more children don’t know their home phone numbers. Of course, many don’t even have land lines at home, relying instead on cellphones for each member of the family.

Alas, what we can’t recall could be a serious handicap, even a safety risk.

Now that we have “smart” phones, memorizing addresses and phone numbers is fast becoming a completely lost art. We take little notice of numbers when all we have to do is push a name or issue a voice command and the phone dials the correct number.

Talk with your kids to see if they know all family phone numbers by memory. Could they recite them to a teacher or police officer if necessary? I asked several young parents about the problem recently, and they all laughed and said, “You know, I hadn’t really thought about it!”

I’ve seen kids as young as 1 to 2 years old using an iPad (also known as “my pad”) and they use words such as “refresh,” “swipe,” “password” and “app” easily. They can call their parents when they’re just 12 to 18 months old by pushing a picture on the phone screen, but do they actually know the number they’re calling? Equally important, do all children know how to call 911 in an emergency, or do they look for an icon of a police officer on their phone?

Teach your children key phone numbers and stress the need to remember them. They may need to make an important call some time without having an “app for that.”

Dr. Sue Hubbard is a pediatrician, medical editor and media host. Submit questions at