Kids and their phones!

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by goodevilgenius

True story…

I had an interesting conversation with a fellow educator the other day about how students are so connected to their mobile devices.  As I listened quietly, she told me about college students and how they were constantly checking their phone, rudely interrupting class with their ringers going off, and were distracted in a way that she has never seen before.

Then her phone rang.  She then proceeded to pick it up, answer, and excuse herself from the conversation.

Yup…that just happened.

So as I laughed at the irony of this, I thought about all of the ways that we vilify kids for behaviours that we do so often.

For example, I have heard complaining from adults in the staff room about students using their phone during recess and not exercising as much as they should.  All of this, while being on the same break, checking their messages, calling their spouses, and eating unhealthy treats because, well, it’s a day of the week.

I am not saying that I think kids should be on the phone at recess and not exercise, but I believe in balance.  What I do have an issue with is saying that kids should not be doing something that we are able to do.

I had a parent once tell me that kids are becoming ridiculous with technology, and then watched her pack up the kids in her mini-van, start the car, turn on her phone, and start talking while she was driving with them in the vehicle.

Those darn kids!

Back to the beginning of the story.

As the mom came back, she told me she had to take the phone call as her husband called because the kids wanted her to sing them to sleep since she was away.  The device let her do that, when years ago, she would have had a hard time being able to say tonight while she was away.

Could you really fault her for taking the that phone call? I know I couldn’t.



  1. Hey Buddy,

    I have been spending a lot of time on this balance thing as well, especially with a few teenagers in my life pushing the limit. I have to admit that I am on the liberal side here and give my kids the benefit of the doubt, maybe too much. But I have to admit that I think there are many others who do not give kids the benefit of the doubt in their “social” use of the phone.

    I just read a post yesterday from Medium titled “Teens aren’t abandoning “social.” They’re just using the word correctly” really got me thinking. Here’s the link –

    Safe travels!

  2. I am a high school teacher librarian and the parent of a 2 year old and see both sides of this issue. Technically our students are not allowed to have electronic devices out between 7:25 and 2:10. I have my phone out all the time to check emails, enter work orders, and take pictures while I’m out and about in the building. I had the experience of a teacher actually chide me while I was in the hall for looking at my phone. He complained that that was why it was so difficult for students to follow the rule, he didn’t mention anything about the rule being archaic.
    I feel that students need to be taught how to use their devices. How will they learn when is the right time and place to use them if we don’t teach them?

  3. Modeling appropriate behavior is something we preach about ALL the time…why would “social” media be any different? My thought is that if I’m not teaching my child what my expectations are and what is and isn’t appropriate….who will? I’d rather it be my parameters and my values vs her friends & teachers….

  4. I like your comparison with modeling appropriate behavior in all ways. I teach my daughter to share and be nice to friends by not saying mean things or hitting or biting, etc… and not talking to strangers or eating berries she doesn’t know about. I also expect those to be reinforced at school and/or daycare. I feel that it should be the same for digital behaviors. We need to be aware of their actions and teach them how to be safe and respectful – it shouldn’t matter in which medium.

  5. Well, now a days almost all of us have our own gadgets. all i can say is that, keep on reminding your students or your children on how to use it in proper place and time. I am a working mother and 3 wonderful children. I am keep on telling them that they should know their limitations of using phone and gadgets. Thanks!

  6. Yup. I agree with Melissa. Students do need to be taught about their devices – not by banning them, by bringing them into the classroom and, as you suggest, modelling how we use them for the things that matter.

    I work with 16 – whatever-olds and ask them to put their phones on the table and on silent. That way they see communication coming in and if they need to, can respond (some of my students are parents).

    Mine is on the table, too. That way I can more easily model how to use it in a learning context. When I work with students it is generally in 2nd language learning so we use phones a lot – for translation, dictionary, usage but mainly for recording and listening and sharing.

  7. The comment about parameters strikes me. In addition to teaching, I coach. One thing that I’m always reminding myself is that if I don’t set a rule, I can’t hold my students or athletes accountable. So, I try to establish those rules (or parameters) early. Then, if a student or athlete breaks my rule or goes beyond the parameter, I can hold him or her accountable. In a class that I’m taking, it points out several things teachers can do to teach appropriate/responsible use of mobile devices. One suggestion is to have it be part of your school’s curriculum and to have students be a part of creating the policy and curriculum. I think that’s great because you get automatic “buy-in.” As we are learning, these devices aren’t going away. In fact, they’re becoming more readily available. So, what are we going to do?

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