I don’t believe in ADD (Exhibit A). But I do have a pretty low attention span. And ever since the iPhone put the internet in my pocket, I can’t go 5 unstimulated minutes without checking something: my email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, etc.
I’m ashamed of this for a few reasons. I’m certainly a worse driver when I’m tweeting behind the wheel, but it’s mostly an issue of etiquette. I should be able to hold a conversation with people nearby or entertain myself with my actual surroundings. Interacting with the real world is a constant act of discovery; playing with my phone is just a comfortable time-wasting habit.
The kids are, naturally, worse about this kind of thing than I am. Unlike me, they’re addicted to texting, and they have no qualms about doing it in class. Thirty perfectly conscious and kind of interesting people sitting around them, and they have to have a digital, broken-English dialogue with a kid in some other class.
My point is I realize why they do it. They’re bored. They’re feeling the same thing I feel when I’m shopping with Maria, or stopped at a red light, or in any of the dozens of other instances where I pull out my iPhone for a quick look at CNN.com.
So what, if anything, should be done? How does a teacher with a cell phone addiction reprimand students for being addicted to their cell phones? I mostly fall back on the school’s official policy: no cell phones out during school hours. I’m pretty lenient, usually asking students to put it away and only writing up the repeat offenders (recidivism!).
Part of me wants to be understanding, hence the leniency. Another part knows that these people will only figure out social norms by being punished for breaking them. Maturity has its natural elements, certainly–judgment skills aren’t physically maxed out for males until their twenties–but I’ve got a role in preparing kids for a real world, complete with momentary spurts of the day where it’s just not OK to check your stupid Twitter account. I’ve got it (mostly) figured out; so should they.