She leaned in so that I could hear her whisper. “We need to get rid of the phones,” she said.
A school district employee, she has seen first-hand the impact of phones in a classroom situation. No matter how many times an educator tells students that no phones are allowed, there will always be crotch-starers in the classroom holding the phones in their laps, thinking that no one will notice.
Educators always notice.
Of course, part of the problem is that many of the educators these days are just as addicted to the phones as the students are.
So far, our grands have not been given phones. Credit to their parents for this. However, I know the pressure to give them one will increase with age.
There are worse evils than giving your kid or grand a cell phone. Giving them an AR-15 comes to mind.
And I’m not on the ban books and cell phones wagon. I happen to like books and think that there are useful tools in a cell phone. Even educational ones, if used properly.
However, I find it beyond hypocritical that those who develop this technology shun it for their own children. Silicon Valley techies aren’t keen on sending their kids to schools where technology is the modus operandi for teaching. They much prefer the old-fashion way of educating their kids – hands on. They understand that boredom is the cornerstone for imagination. One needs to quiet themselves in order to have space for imagination. If one is filling their brains with a daily diet of information that they will forget ten minutes later as they turn to YouTube videos of stupid tricks, one has no room for thinking up stuff on their own.
This causes me to wonder, would there even be a Sistine Chapel if old Mike had been on his phone all day. Would we have the works of Howard Finnister if ole Howie had been watching YouTube videos all day? Would the Bronte sisters traded in being writers for being influencers? Would they have rather posed with a glass of wine versus a book of poetry? Would we ever have known the name of Robin Williams had he spent his time isolated with nothing more than an iPad to entertain him?
A 2008 study examined students’ in-class laptop use. According to student self-reports, 64.3% used lap- tops for at least one class period. Of these users, some admitted to checking e-mail (81%), using instant messaging (68%), surfing the Internet (43%), playing games (25%), and engaging in “other activities” (35%). Thus, one could argue that technology facilitates these unintended changes to students’ in-class behavior by providing multiple opportunities for them to “escape” from the learning tasks. The student using (distracted by) university- provided or personal devices while sitting in class is fast becoming a standard feature of many classroom.
That was 15 years ago. Imagine how the impact of all that in today’s classrooms.
Here’s what Melinda Gates thinks about all that screen time now that her kids are out the door:
“Still, as a mother who wants to make sure her children are safe and happy, I worry. And I think back to how I might have done things differently. Parents should decide for themselves what works for their family, but I probably would have waited longer before putting a computer in my children’s pockets. Phones and apps aren’t good or bad by themselves, but for adolescents who don’t yet have the emotional tools to navigate life’s complications and confusions, they can exacerbate the difficulties of growing up: learning how to be kind, coping with feelings of exclusion, taking advantage of freedom while exercising self-control. It’s more important than ever to teach empathy from the very beginning, because our kids are going to need it.”
So don’t take it from me. Take it from a Gates.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of numerous books, all written with the aid of a computer.