As a substitute teacher specializing in long-term assignments, I am exposed to the trends that permeate preteen and teen life. Almost nonstop cellphone use has become so common that many school systems simply ignore it.
Now … enter the classroom. Those four walls designed to inspire learning are being transformed by smartphone usage into either social times of watching and sharing pictures and videos or individual time texting or playing video games. DURING instructional time, kids are watching movie streaming sites, playing video games, scrolling social media feeds, and video conferencing with other students sitting in other classes in the school! Some kids don’t do any work in class and only play on laptops, tablets, and especially smartphones. Our teachers shouldn’t have to deal with that.
As if the teacher is the one who’s out of line, students have the audacity to get an attitude when asked to do schoolwork … in school. I’m sorry, tell me again, why are you here? All too often, when a teacher instructs a student to curb cellphone use or put it away for any length of time, they are met with resistance. The kind that involves bad attitudes, snarky or disrespectful comments and backtalk. Some obstinately ignore the teacher altogether and continue to use the device anyway, or challenge the teacher to make them comply. And even after all that, students who put their phones away will have them back out within minutes: wasted time and effort. No wonder teachers are so frustrated with their powerless, fangless requests to have their classrooms back.
You would think the school could lay down the rules as to what is acceptable behavior during class. So why are teachers throwing their hands in the air in frustration and defeat? Are we to believe as a society we cannot contain our kids’ addictive cellphone habits? Hasn’t behavioral science already proven that man’s actions can be curbed with clear, consistent expectations and consequences?
Have parents worked to protect their kids from violence, hypersexuality, and addiction only to hand all three directly over to them in the form of smartphones and watches? And then sic those undisciplined, cellphone addicted kids on the teachers in classrooms all over the nation?
It’s interesting how so many people with opinions about the benefits of smartphone use in the classroom are often those that don’t spend their days in a classroom full of entitled, disobedient, disrespectful, indifferent, unmotivated, self-centered students. In schools where there is an expectation to respect authority and learn – or at the very least, act like you’re learning – integrating smartphone usage in the classroom may have some success. Yet, the detrimental effects of this practice are still present as the pull of social media and the distracting “funny” videos can be too much for the underdeveloped brain of an adolescent. Constant connectivity to the thoughts, ideas, acceptance and bullying of their peer group only further distracts the student’s mind.
I understand the need for studies that produce clear results. Those results are used to make policy and take action; and those that conduct such research should continue in their endeavors. However, I don’t think it takes more than one class period to see the negative effects of preteen and teens armed with smart devices. If you don’t believe me, go to your local middle or high school and observe. Though I can’t speak for the whole country, county, city, or town, it’s likely that if you are able to find a school that allows cellphone usage or doesn’t adequately enforce their non-use, you will find distracted learning on a level worth your concern.
It seems that a nationwide survey of teachers – the ones that are actually in the classrooms where the cellphone abuse is taking place – would shed a bright, white, unavoidable spotlight on the matter. That, coupled with studies and statistics on falling grades and diminished learning capacity could reveal some truths about the relationship between cellphones and the classroom.
And don’t get me started on these student’s blatant indifference and lack of motivation to “do school”. Smartphone appendages do nothing to help that problem. In fact, they are actively aiding in the dumbing down of our students. As if the poor educational standing of America on the world stage needs any more help failing our students. Is there really anyone involved in the educational process unable to see the hugely negative impact of smartphones in the classroom? Or of almost boundaryless smartphone usage in the addictive-leaning hands of adolescent’s in general? Again, teachers are bearing the brunt of this new normal. These classroom leaders are already underpaid for what they are being required to do, nevermind adding the burden of fighting smartphones for the attention of their students.
Why should teachers have to deal with that? If your child wants to sit on his phone all day, then stay home! Why should he be allowed to come to school just to hang with friends and get social time, while disrupting the classroom environment and not learning anything? Why should a student be rewarded while punishing teachers, administrators and fellow students for their behavior. Babysitting or supervising errant behavior only takes away from the teacher’s main job: to educate our kids. School is for learning; short of that, stay home! Maybe it’s time to go Joe Clark on some of these schools and lay down the rules and expectations in the classroom.
If schools lay down the boundaries, and parents support them, students can and will fall in line. So, pray for our teachers and support them in their difficult jobs. Let’s do our part to raise awareness in our kids of their roles and responsibilities as students in school and ultimately, as citizens of the world.
#NotAfriadToThink #ImproveOurSchools #CellPhoneHealth