In reading Sherry Turkle’s Chapter 9 of Alone Together, I would say teens, more than others, use smartphone technology as a way to avoid interactions they don’t want to have. In waiting rooms, everyone is on their phone. Look at restaurants or the stands of sporting events and you will find many are missing what is directly in front of them to be on their phones. To discover one’s identity or self, one would have to be left to their own devices, not technology’s! That is my belief and I think many kids are taking a longer time to discover themselves than previous generations. Part of this problem is the smartphone. How many more kids are living at home after college? How many can’t decide on a major? How many more kids in this generation are directionless? I feel if they spent more of their time in “real time” they would have more direction and insight into their own path. “I have a feeling, I want to make a call,” (p.176). In chapter nine, Turkle discusses that teens use their phone as a replacement for friends or avenues to grieve and think. Instead of thinking about what teens are feeling, they are programmed to impulsively text a friend and if they don’t answer, text another. While they think this is a way of dealing with their emotions, we know that one impulsive teen comforting another is not the best way to deal with issues. Chapter ten discusses how some kids get annoyed if they are not answered immediately via IM, DM, or text. I find that this would be true for anyone, however, this generation of teens is not equipped with coping skills of handling this emotions independently; an important life skill. They need instant satisfaction and gratification. Page 199 discusses Mandy, who is upset that she sent an instant message and finds it rude that no one wrote back. The idea that all her friends were on laptops and possibly doing homework, didn’t make her feel better. She found in even more rude that her message was so accessible, yet ignored. This just goes to show that students today are constantly interrupted and unfocused. I’m so sick of hearing, “My son has ADD,” at conferences! Oh, please! I think teens need to get away from their phones for some time each day to actually “live!” Learn how to BE in the world of the living and not the technological world. Then maybe we would have more focused, grounded, and patient children in the world.
I wholeheartedly believe in this statement from Angela Walmsley, author of “Unplug the Kids” when she writes, “Children learn to express themselves through free play outside where their imaginations are challenged as they freely explore their environment.” While I agree that the technologies of today are quite beneficial for kids of all ages, I think too many are lacking an imagination. This article suggests having specific technology downtime and other times where it’s OK to use smartphones, computers and IPads. Allowing kids the opportunity to develop their minds freely gives them the opportunity to be creative. Many of my students struggle at the application level. They can not see something modeled and then apply it to their own work. We are writing narratives and many are struggling to describe scenes. This, I believe, has to do with their lack of creativity. They never go outside, think without using a phone, or generate their own ideas. They look everything up! Using context clues is foreign!
Jeffrey Kluger’s “We Never Talk Anymore” is a great representation of today’s world. Text instead of talk. He mentions that most adults had developed social skills before using a cell phone on a daily basis, yet this generation of kids has not. I find this accurate. I was astounded with the facts about the amount of texts sent per day - 88! Honestly, I am probably close to that number, however, I can have a conversation with others too. I am shocked at how many times I walk into my classroom and see the tops of heads, instead of faces. They are all on their phones. I believe it is taking away from their basic social skills. These are skills they will need for interviews in the future! We may be making them into effective 21-century learners but the lack of social skill where you can exchange pleasantries with someone will affect negatively their future. I ask how my students are doing and I get no response! They are busy Tweeting or texting.
I know this is an issue because even in my personal life it comes to light. If I go on a date with a younger guy, he always texts messages to have a conversation, which annoys me. Anyone my age or older is more prone to talk on the phone, or have a conversation in person. It is a generational thing. However, at the same time, when I was teen I remember being asked out via hand-written note! I bet these days teens are texting that same question instead of passing notes! Either way, apparently, none of these options work; I’m still single! HA!