Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Phone Is My Life

Thus spake one of my young charges yesterday morning. I was shocked. I know this girl to be extremely social. She gets along with everyone. One of the things I really like to see among ESL students is that they befriend others who are not of their language group. This girl actually sits with someone from the other side of the world, and as far as I can see they are best buds.

But nonetheless, her little cell phone is what it's all about. I said what about your friends? She said she could text them anytime, as long as she had her phone. I asked what she liked to do. She could play games and look at videos whenever she felt like it. She has everything right there in the phone, an entire world as far as she's concerned.

I've watched my own daughter sit with her cousin and their friends in a room, all on various devices texting one another. I ask them why they don't just talk and they look at me like I'd just fallen from the sky. Why would they talk when they can simply text?

The other day I was doing a demonstration to try to get my kids use present perfect. This entailed having them walk out. What are you going to do? I'm going to go out. Stop--what are you doing? I'm going out. What have you done? I've gone out. One girl who went out decided she would not come back. She sat by the side of the trailer stairs and started texting. She was pretty surprised when I called her father that evening, and was not at all happy about it the following day.

Apparently, the phone is a priority. I see that girl's phone almost every day. I can picture it right now. But since I called her dad the other day, I haven't seen it.

I don't confiscate phones unless kids do something outrageous. Once a kid started playing music in the trailer bathroom. His mom was disappointed when she had to pick it up later that week. Another kid pulled his phone out of his pocket and started speaking in a foreign language in my English class. The US may be a free country, but we only speak English in my classroom. That kid did without his phone for a while.

I usually just remind kids to put their phones away and that works. Sometimes I will take a phone and leave it on the teacher desk until the bell rings. I understand these are very important to the kids. I'm actually pretty well glued to my iPhone.

But I know it's neither my life, nor the most important thing in it.

I really hope my students learn that one way or another.
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