Saturday, April 01, 2017

Phone Addiction: It Makes Crack Look Tame

This has been the environment in our home for too long. With three boys and three little machines attached to them like the nuks they held so tightly as babies, I can no longer reach them. Their attention has been stolen by these screens. Their minds so needing the quick fix of their phones, a simple dinner conversation without a flashing screen has become torture.(Article Linked above in first line....)
My response:
I wish more parents were like you. I teach high school. Worse than that, I teach high school in a district that thought it would be forward thinking and educationally sound to have students bring their own technology into the classroom. So whereas phones were forbidden in class except when teachers needed them for online coursework, now phones are on all the time. Students walk down the hallways, earphones snaked under their clothes, listening to what I can only assume is the soundtrack they believe is underlying their daily lives. They secretly text and watch movies in class, necessitating that they have to sit on the floor in the hallways during lunch, with their chargers plugged in, so that they will be able to text during their afternoon classes.

I've been teaching a long time. Instead of increasing depth of knowledge, the impact of phone addiction (for I truly believe that is the nature of this situation) is that students lack social filters and many are incapable of carrying on a rational conversation, much less a supported debate. They are less articulate, less able to write intelligently and are essentially lacking in the ability to focus. The irony is that the imposition of technology is viewed by the educational hierarchy as something to be supported because it can be quantified. What they have not considered is the impact down the road.

Consider this. We now teach young children to read using electronic screens rather than printed books. Electronic screens are constantly moving, causing eyestrain. In prior generations, most children with vision problems were caught in first grade, when they started reading. Young children have no word for eyestrain, they only know that reading makes their head hurt. It's basic operant conditioning that explains why our kids are reading less, thinking less, doing less. I promise you that those kids in China, Russia and Denmark that are kicking our kids rearends in educational benchmarks are not learning this way. It's lazy. And it's turning today's kids into ready consumers for whatever popular fake news comes down the pike.

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