How old are your children? When did they get — or do you plan to get them — cell phones? Why?
I ask because I fail to see cell phones improving the quality of life in tweens and teens. Rather, I only see anxiety and a giant paradox regarding cell phone communication: the more kids use their phones, the less connected they feel to the people with whom they are supposed to be communicating.
I’m going to put my Teacher Hat on for this post and speak from the perspective of the educator. Here is what I am seeing during the school day:
- Texting each other the first and last few minutes of class. About what, I can only guess, as I cannot legally go into their devices… (But YOU can… if you dare.)
- Taking “selfies” and/or “Snapchatting/Vining,” then obsessively checking to see how many “likes” they are getting.
- Increased requests to leave the class to “go to the bathroom” or “get a drink.” Presumably to use their phones so they don’t get in trouble during class. I can’t tell them no, but they are losing instruction time, as their trips are longer than necessary to sneak in a few more texts.
- More requests to text parents because they “forgot” something. This irony is that the more they rely on texting parents, the less they need to communicate with their families BEFORE and AFTER the school day is in session.
- Notifying me that they need to go to the office to pick up something… presumably because they just got a text saying their item from #4 was just dropped off.
(On my own time, I even saw a post on a Moms’ FB group asking what other mothers would do if they saw test answers on their kid’s phone!)
You may ask why I don’t just have a policy… I. DO. So does the district. But if/when I go to enforce it, I have been subject to major tantrums. And this is not just from the students. I have been accused of “stealing” property when I confiscate the cell phone, enforcing the policy, and then returning the phone at the end of the day. I have been called a “train wreck” and was told that I “need mental help.” There have been threats on my job and my life. I have been the victim of theft to retaliate against me. All because I have asked that phones are out of my classroom. I have a thick skin, and administration supports me, so I just handle it like the strong human I am. But what concerns me more are how the STUDENTS are actually suffering.
Some students are so dependent upon their phones that asking them to part with them for the 40 minutes I have them for class is almost impossible for them. So I implore all parents… Please do not contribute to the angst. I am only asking for two things:
- Tell your kids that you do not want them using them during classes and if you get a report from their teacher that they were seen out, you will suspend them from their phone for a day… then week… then moth… then cancelled.
- Tell them that you will no longer be available to them DURING the school day. (Or if that’s not doable, at least only during their or your lunch for a one-time contact point to send or receive a communication.) That means you’ll have to do a better job of planning rides, and they will not be able to have you run them forgotten items.