A local mom used to text her kids the minute a thought popped into her head. She was aware that distraction was a problem in the classroom as well as on the road. But how could an occasional text from mom make a difference when her kids were receiving snaps and texts from peers all day long?
But now, concerned about disturbing her son while he’s in classes at college, she checks his schedule before she texts him about vacation plans or family matters, or just to say she loves him. She makes sure to hold her texts until he’s free to read and respond.
Schools are working hard to limit cell phone use by students during the day and so should parents.
If we expect our children to have impulse control and to cope in the real world, we need to rein in impulsive texting and set an example, so they learn to hold that text, too.
And, rather than rely on our phones as an escape route for changing plans, we need to become better planners who can get family plans set up and organized outside of school time.
Scarsdale Middle School views cell phones and other electronic devices as “distractive nuisances that interfere with instruction,” according to its student handbook. During the academic day, and including lunch period, any student found using a cell phone or other device prior to 2:30 p.m. will have the device confiscated and it will be held in the student’s House office until the end of the day.
For the older students in the high school, cell phones and other handheld technologies must be turned off during class (though exceptions are occasionally made for some schoolwork or research). The SHS student handbook says teachers are supposed to confiscate any cell phones used by students while in class and turn the devices over to the principal or assistant principals. At the end of the day, the administrator will return the phone with a warning and will note the infraction. If the student gets caught using the phone a second time, the cell phone will be held by an administrator until a parent comes in to claim it. In addition, phone calls are only allowed in places where conversations will not disturb classes in session, such as the cafeteria, the commons, or lobby areas.
So, even though students can look at their phones at lunch and between classes, parents need to stop adding to the things kids feel they have to think about or respond to. A text during the school day implies we want them to see it, even if we don’t expect them to act on it until after school. Why give them mixed messages?
Physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston at screenagersmovie.com offers a few thoughts to help people redefine their texting habits.
When you have a thought or a question for someone, consider waiting or finding a time to call or say it in person.
Don’t respond to texts right away and don’t expect others to respond right away.
Think about reasons why it might be better not to respond to a text as soon as you receive it.
If you receive a text when you are in a situation where you cannot respond at that moment, don’t let it distract you.
Use smart phone software to set a message to say “I am driving and can’t respond to texts.”
As Ruston points out, the hardest part of delaying a text is that we fear we will lose the thought because our “working memory” is not working as well as it used to. If that’s the case, try using the smart phone’s “Notes” option to dictate the idea and then set an alarm to remind yourself to send it after school hours. It may seem like a lot of work versus just sending the text. But holding the text will begin to feel good, and eventually, become the norm.