From A Teacher\\\'s Perspective: How To Talk To Teens About Their Cell
Oct 4, 2008 Classroom Management 3604 Views
Melissa text messages her friend Nancy during a Macbeth exam in their fourth period English class: "4 iz B. No tchr cant c me ok. Meet u out front @ 3. L8tr!"
Many professionals within the educational field would probably agree that cell phones do distract teens in class. Teachers have a list of numerous reasons why teens should not have cell phones at school or in the classroom. It is a reality that teen cell phone usage is here to stay and will only increase with time. There are many educators' experiences with students and their cell phone use, both in the classroom and at school, which all parents should be aware of. But to avoid having problems with a son or daughter's cell phone usage at school and cause further tension at home, parents should be aware of at least five factors when it comes to teens' cell phone usage during school time.
School and Classroom Policies
Parents should first check with the school's policies regarding cell phone use on campus. As some schools ban cell phones on campus all together, others allow them to be used outside of class time and may or may not allow them to be visible in the classroom or on campus. Certain school policies may even specify when cell phone usage is allowed. For example, before school, after school, between classes and at lunch are possible times when cell phone usage is accepted.
Consequences may include immediate confiscation of the cell phone and a parent would then need to go to school to retrieve the device. Another offense may result in the student losing all cell phone privileges, so that the student would not be able to bring the cell phone back on campus again for the rest of the academic year.
If cell phone usage violations increase, the chances are the school may start to ban them on campus all together. Of course, teens and parents wouldn't want to see this happen. Parents should also let their teens know that they will support the school's standards.
Parents should also check with the teacher's cell phone classroom policy, as it may differ from the school policy. For example, some teachers only prefer that the students' cell phone is either turned off or set to silent, but can be visible while others stress the importance of not seeing cell phones in sight at all. Teachers may have a "three strikes you're out" policy in the classroom as well. Or others may send students up to the office with a referral for the very first offense. If a cell phone rings in class, the teacher may also choose to give a verbal warning used as a reminder for the student to set it to vibrate mode. In either case, it is important for both parents and students to be aware of these individual teacher-set classroom policies that the school administration also supports in favor of the teacher.
Although many students do depend on cell phones to coordinate and communicate after school plans with either friends or family, parents should talk to their teens about the best time and place to make such plans. In the middle of a lecture is not the best time for students as this is a time when learning is a priority over cell phone use--even in those "emergency" situations when a parent is calling. Parents, alike, should understand that if there is an emergency, they are to contact the school's front office in order to reach their child.
In an extreme communication case in Georgia, a student was suspended from school over a cell phone call from his mother who was a military soldier stationed in Iraq. The student refused to end the call at school and still, the school upheld its cell phone usage policy despite local public outcry over the incident.
However, many schools do understand the safety importance for children to have cell phones and be able to have contact with parents in this day and age of Columbine, child abductions, and terrorism. Students' only protection may in fact be a cell phone in some situations. Educators would probably be sure to agree, but there must be somewhere to draw the line as far as proper cell phone etiquette in the classroom.
Obvious cell phone use in the classroom includes students shuffling in their purses, heads lowered and staring at the floor with the cell phone under the desk, or holding up a binder in front of their faces on top of a desk. But some female students with long hair will go to such great lengths as to hide their cell phone in the palm of their hand and rest it against their ear under their hair so that it appears the student is merely resting their head upon their hand. When talking on this hidden cell phone, it even appears as if the student is talking to a fellow student right next to her!
While "texting" does give teens instant gratification and entertainment, this too is inappropriate behavior in the classroom. Many teachers would agree that the texting capability further distracts students in class. Students should be paying attention to the tasks at hand in class, not whether or not Joanna is dating Erik or if Joe plans on going to "the party" next weekend. Educators believe that distractions like this could have an impact on student grades because they aren't listening or doing what they are supposed to.
Although there are plenty of times when students can be suave by quickly texting when the teacher is not looking, it simply is not good character. Parents should support the classroom rules and remind their teen that they should too.
Teachers could check with their students first to see if they are in possession of their cell phones. This is a task worth undertaking for some, since it further enforces the no cell phone use policy. Some school administrations believe this will help to curb the drug communication efforts by some students who are involved with illegal activity at school.
Not only can cell phones become a distraction in class, some students also use text messaging to cheat on quizzes or exams. Checking with the school's academic dishonesty policy is also a good rule of thumb to follow. Making sure that both parents and their teens understand the consequences could prevent cheating in the first place. Parents should remind teens that cheating via text messaging would not be tolerated.
Yes, cyber bullying. With the new technology features on cell phones, parents should be aware of the photo, video, Internet and text messaging options that their son or daughter may choose to bully someone at school or who may end up being the one who is being bullied. According to anti-bullying information on the Internet, cyber bullying includes taking and circulating inappropriate photographs, video, or audio with cell phones (i.e., photographing, video or audio recording someone undressing in a gym locker room or restroom, or in a situation that the target would find humiliating).
To help lessen your teen's involvement in cyber bullying, you may choose to prohibit the taking of photographs whose circulation would harm others. Check the caller ID on the teen's cell phone and remind them that they have the option to not answer a call. And of course, tell teens about cyber bullying and let them know what to do should they become a victim. Check with the cell phone provider and ask them if they offer a service that blocks unwanted calls.
Parents and teens should know when it would be an appropriate time to call the police in a case of cyber bullying. Call when it involves death threats or threats of other forms of violence to a person or property, excessive intimidation or extortion, threats or intimidation that involve any form of bias or discrimination based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and any evidence of sexual exploitation. Basically, anything that makes them uncomfortable or fearful.
Overall, parents should firmly set clear limitations for their teens and once again help them build good character in both the classroom and in life. The best strategy for promoting ethical behavior with cell phones is to be proactive by speaking to their teen about proper cell phone use. This would help parents tremendously so that they can have an understanding with their child about their cell phone usage. This may prevent them from getting into trouble academically or with their school.