Phone Alone

Something Chris and I are at a disagreement on recently: whether or not Kari should have an iPhone. I don’t want to subscribe to parent peer pressure and I don’t want to lose my 9 year-old to some device.

Personally, I love it when my phone dies. There is an expectation people now have with the mainstreaming of smart phones: constant, instant contact. People feel they should be able to contact you whenever (no kidding, I’ve gotten calls at 12:30 am about surrendering a dog to the Rescue) and wherever (call, text, tweet, fb, etc.) and if they cannot, well, something seriously tragic must have happened.

Like any good academic, I agree and disagree with this story. I do agree that the principal should have taken a more open approach: kids are using this, talk to them about it, talk to them about the conversations had on these media, and counselors are available for discussions if your student desires.

What I don’t like is students so young using technology so frequently. I see so many people on campus walking together, but on their phones. I see people at lunch together, but on their phones. I see people driving AND on their phones!

Kari’s school district has a BYOD policy. This being:

Students in (omitted) schools have the opportunity to bring their own electronic devices into the classroom to support their learning.  The district has listened to students and their parents who shared that they would prefer students to use their own personal technology to assist with learning.

This is all wonderful and fine if students simply use their devices for the educational focus at the time, but, arguably, they don’t. Trust me, I have been in class with many students who would much rather shop J.Crew, play on Facebook, (insert distraction here) than pay attention.

Kari had an experience last year where the 2 other members of her group were making silly videos on their phones instead of doing group work. Kari was mad she got a poor grade on her assignment, and the teacher did not hear her concerns. Do devices enhance learning? Sure, but likely not for the learning outcomes intended for the day.

I’d much rather be real and present with the people in my life. Life is short. Sure, kids are on Instagram and the like, but what are they missing out on by casting their social net so wide? Cherish the people who are real and present in your life. Knowing tidbits about your 250 Facebook friends doesn’t mean you have 250 actual friends just as getting likes on your selfie doesn’t actually mean those people like you in real life.

No one’s life is as cool as it is online. “Killing it at doing the dishes,” or “Just saved $1.50 on shampoo! WINNING”, tweeted no one ever. We only share the most exciting moments in our lives or ones that might connect us socially to the masses. Tweet about the crazy long line at Starbucks? Yes. Instagram your supper? Totes. Post about your promotion? Of course! For many of my Facebook friends, I can recall if they have had a baby, moved to a new house, or gotten a promotion recently. That’s really it. I don’t really know them.

Maybe parents and schools should talk to their children about the social pressures that come with such contact, and how to handle such pressures. This is challenging as many adults don’t even have healthy device usage limits.

As for Kari and the phone, I still don’t think it’s time. The social pressures become ever-present with the adoption of social media and smart phones. I want her to feel freedom I hope she will appreciate later.