Friends, Parents, and Students, Lend Me Your Urls

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Excuse the pun; I’m teaching Shakespeare this week, both Hamlet and Julius Caesar to the brightest students in the school and several tenth grade repeaters. This is shaping up to be an interesting week to say the least. Interestingly, both groups are really into the plays.

Anyway, is it just me or have you noticed that Generation Y is glued to electronic devices? A recent survey states that teens send over 3,300 texts per month and spend an average of 7.5 hours on media per day (Huffington Post). In school, students are lost when they are not able to check their messages. Just today, I passed back essays and noticed a student texting. When I told this student to put up the phone, the reply was, “Just a minute; I’m tweeting about how I’m failing this class.” Really???? Here’s a tweet: Tweeting in class is bad for grades. #truth

I worry about the future for these students as the art of conversation is not gone but quickly diminishing, and I believe much of it is because of electronics and social media in the life of teens. Actually, many adults are not much better. But before we throw up our hands and call it a lost cause, here are some suggestions for getting control of electronics in your home or work place.

1. Adults should lead the way. If we are texting and checking social media during times that we should be spending with our children or teaching, we are providing a poor example. We cannot ask our children or our students to do something that we do not practice.

2. Make meal time an electronic free time. Our family does not text, talk, or check social media during meals. This has always been the policy with all of our kids. Meal time is protected. Prioritizing family meals is hard enough, and we certainly don’t want to lose that time to the phone.

3. Phones are on the kitchen counter at night. Our oldest daughter had trouble with texting during the middle of the night and being tired the next day. From the number of students who struggle to stay awake during class, she’s probably not the only one. (After all, I can’t be that boring everyday). Once her phone was on the kitchen counter during the night, she slept better and the middle of the night texting stopped. Parents often say, “my kid uses the phone for the alarm or would be really upset with me or . . . . ” The adult is the parent; make it happen.

4. Know your kids passwords to social media. Even if you trust your kid, many others on social media cannot be trusted. You should be checking their account on a regular basis. This is not a privacy issue: it’s a safety issue.

5. Have regular conversations with your children about electronic usage and social media. If the adults are not bringing up this subject, students are not thinking about it.

6. DON’T TEXT OR CALL YOUR KID DURING SCHOOL. (Yes, I am yelling). As of now, schools have a no cell phone policy, and parents texting students during school encourages them to check their phone and lose focus of the lesson and in reality break a school rule. Schools still have land lines for emergencies. Help us enforce the school policy by not tempting your child in this area.

I believe this is a battle worth fighting because our kids and students need us to help them set boundaries and limits when they are not mature enough to do so. We don’t want to look back in 20 years and realize we lost the battle to electronics. Next week my post will be on the positives of electronics in education. After all, there are always two sides of a coin.

What’s your suggestion for controlling electronic usage and social media with the next generation?

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