Yesterday and today, we worked with a school district, training teachers and administrators from elementary through high school. When we asked them what characterizes some of their challenges working with today’s students, they cited texting and cell phone use as a huge problem. The article below is right on with their concerns.
Too much texting at school, out of school and in class has caused major problems in focusing and being attentive, teachers say. If students are continually distracted by responding to everyone who texts them ( American teenagers sent an average of over 2,000 text messages a month) then they aren’t able to set and maintain boundaries which can allow them to concentrate and follow-through when they need to do that.
Parents and teachers need to work with students on critically analyzing the pros and cons of technology—especially texting which is the most prevalent means of communication among young people. Many teens say they would rather text than make a phone call or have an in-person conversation. Not only is too much texting an issue of attention, it can also be addicting for students, sucking them into texting all the time at the expense of their own mental and emotional health. Texting has also fostered an unabashed language of sexual innuendos and trash talk which hamper personal and interpersonal self-respect.
If we really want to help young teens develop their emotional intelligence, as parents and educators, we need to model more attentive interaction ourselves, engage in honest discussions about pros and cons of technology and the basics of how to manage oneself with increasingly complex choices. If we are honest about this problem, we can give students the tools to listen to themselves, be brave enough to turn off distractions when needed and say “no” at the right time.