Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wake up Call to parents!

None of us had a cell phone growing up. We didn’t die. I still remained connected to my parents. We had a system: I was instructed to call mom the moment I came home and if I was going to stay after school, I told her the days before I needed to stay after…or if I went to friends house, she talked to the parent herself. They knew where I was at all times. I didn’t need a cell phone.

Now as a teacher, I see in my middle school that practically every child has a cell phone. 75% of my school is on free or reduced lunch; so those parents can’t afford a hot breakfast/lunch everyday, yet they can provide a cell phone to their child? Hmmmmm.

Many parents give their child a phone saying so that they can always keep in touch with their child or their child can call them whenever they needed. Again, my parents knew I was at school and home afterward. Period. I know that kids have so many different activities after school than we did…and there are buses and other parents driving…things happen…Ok, I can understand that….BUT….

Before I tell you what you kids are doing with their cell phones…prepare yourself to wanting to change to a LIMITED plan afterward. Many parents think an unlimited plan is better for it’s cheaper….true- but UNDERSTAND THIS…. An unlimited plan can mean UNLIMITED inappropriate use of it during the school day!

Here is what I’ve seen kids doing with their cell phones during the school day:

a. Kids are asking to the bathroom more now….not to use it like we DID but to text their friends. Asking them to skip class, provide answers on a test they just took or pass on gossip about heard about another person.

b. They are taking pictures of all their friends doing nothing! Granted we developed those ‘nothing’ pictures when we were kids and the pix of kids today can be easily deleted…but occasionally I have been given a cell phone by a student to view the pictures they take….butts, cleavage…ugly faces…many middle fingers, gang signs AND who decided that bending over and sticking out your butt to the camera was a ‘sexy’ pose for the camera? Yeah, that is artistic expression worth viewing!

c. Kids take their earplugs and run them up their sleeves past their shoulder and into their ear (maybe under their long hair) and they THINK, we can’t see they are listening to music. That is because parents get the combo phones where tons of music can be downloaded onto it. I find it funny that they don't realize, in using their iPod earplugs, those WHITE cords are highly visible near the head. LOL.

d. If they a need for a calculator in class…they will pass on the class-issued calculator if we run short. This comes off as being generous, for they will use the calculator on their cell phone. HA, not in my class. I don’t care if I am short on calculators. You will wait to take a turn or share a calculator!

e. As many of you have seen on the news, they use their cell phone to video fights and/or people using drugs (you never know when you need the money from blackmail!) and some times go as far as publish awful acts on Youtube. Kids will anonymously get other kids to send a provocative picture of themself, then blackmail them with it.

f. Remember how we thought we were bad and took a book and hid it under the table to read instead of paying attention to the teacher? Well, replace that book with a cell phone now. The books ON the table provide ' a screen' from the teacher seeing them texting during silent reading periods. They are texting at any free moment they can get away with.

g. Are you buying those hoodie sweatshirts that are so popular for kids to wear? Did you know it’s for them to put their cell in their front pocket and text their friends DURING class time? Yes, your kids are very skilled. My cousin (who is now in college) demonstrated to me how she could text back and forth without looking at the keyboard. The phone is on vibrate and when teacher looks away briefly, they pull it out to glance at their friends message then put it back in their pocket and furiously key a message back – all the while a pencil in their hand while they are looking at you like they are LISTENING.

h. Cell phones are NOT supposed to ON or visible during school…OOPS, a phone rings…kid is busted…sometimes it’s the parent calling! WTH? Your child is busy learning!!! Nothing is THAT important to be calling during the school day. YES, emergencies do arise but you do what OUR PARENTS DID and you call the main office where WE will handle getting your child ready to go in a heartbeat if need be!!!! I DON'T CARE - their forgotten lunch, project or homework will be immediately delivered to them from the office!!!

i. Bullies are not like the days of yore when they were in your face and pushed you around. Now, they call you with a blocked number and call and hang up over and over. They text you evil messages how you are ugly and no one likes you. Why? Because this girl probably talked to the wrong boy. Teenage suicide is on the increase due to cyber bullying. It can be anonymous and drive a student to take their own lives over nasty emails and texts. Think twice about the info you provide for your school’s phone directory. I think it’s a waste of paper and dangerous access to information.

j. Even sexual harassment has gone HIGH TECH now. You may worry about a male saying inappropriate things to your daughter….on the cell he doesn’t need to be courageous or even have an IDENTITY anymore. He can just text your daughter (blocking his number of course) and say sexual things or NOW.... the new term is…SEXTING, where he will photograph his body parts and send them to a girl and watch her reaction from afar. We caught a kid once using his cell during an assembly and took it away…the teacher opened the phone to see what he was doing and found sexual comments written to girl student. Get this, the parents persued this as an issue of their son's privacy being invaded....seemingly no concern or adversion over what their son was saying sexually in 8th grade to another girl. Nice.

SO, the days of stranger danger on the street and your child’s safety alone on the computer isn’t so prevalent as it used to be…the dangers your children are being exposed to are from the privileges given by the parents and following them everywhere they go in their pockets everyday!

I am not saying your child will engage in any of the aforementioned activities…but my concern is the victimization of your children BY these kids who are NOT monitored by their parents. So moms and dads out there….cells phones are only effective with strict use rules, limited plans and unlimited spot checks by parents. Better yet provide an opportunity of learning about budgeting when their allowance goes to paying their cell phone bill. When they realize every call (and incoming call), text, costs money….they will turn it off and use it only emergencies. If that doesn’t work then get one of those phones that only call the numbers parents program into it.

This public service message was provided by a teacher who WITNESSES your child using the cell phones you give them….everyday, all day.

P.S. I find it curious that I NEVER had student who has to use my phone for their phone isn’t charged. Students sure do make sure every night that their phones are charged for the next…but the same diligence doesn’t go to getting their homework done! They remember to take their cell phone to school but OOPS, I forgot my homework! Hmmmm.

P.P.S If your child is being harassed by other student via cell phone....I guarantee you...they won't tell you. They fear you will take their phone away. I know you aren't punishing them by doing this but they will think it's punishment.....but they will endure all sorts of nasty stuff just to continue having a cell phone. Cool kids have cell phones, losers do not....(that is) in the eyes of a teen.


Robin Sue said...

Lots of good info here. Good to know and I think most parents are clueless as to what their little angels are up to or too afraid to confront them and spoil their friendship. It would be nice if parents parented instead of befriending their own kids.

dh said...

Yes, this is really good information. I don't give my kids cell phones until they can drive. I also won't pay for texting. I know of too many kids who text during class instead of paying attention. I think teachers are either fighting the cellphone wars, or ignoring them because it takes too much time away from teaching. I've heard from my kids though that some of the school is a dead zone. Maybe we should make all of our schools a deadzone where people have to go outside to text like they did for smoking when we were kids.

JennyMac said...

Even though 'dead zones' would be ideal to thwart phone use among kids...not many teachers would be happy about that. Since we move about the school at times, we need to be able to be reached by spouses for emergencies. The phones in our rooms are worthless for no one but other teachers and schools can call and THEY interrupt class all the time!