When I was a newspaper reporter covering education, among other beats, in Connecticut, one thing was overtly clear to me as I strolled down the hallways, reported on school assemblies and sat in on class presentations: smartphones and iPods have quickly become the most popular kids on campus.
Almost 10 years ago, when I first started high school, cell phones were the biggest thing to hit school (after Pogs and Tamagotchis). Verizon had just introduced the concept of a family share plan, and kids couldn’t wait to start whipping out their Nokia cell phones.
Once kids were lucky enough to receive a Nokia phone (and even luckier once they received rhinestone phone covers) they would use the phones sparingly in school, predominately to play the riveting game called “Snake.”
Nowadays, kids come to school equipped with their BlackBerries, Droids and iPhones, and games are barely on their minds as they would prefer to text incessantly, update their Facebook statuses and send tweets while in class.
Estimates of how many middle school students own their own cell phones range from 40 to 75 percent, and that number spikes considerably when you start talking about high school students, according to reports. Moreover, industry spending on advertising to children has increased during the last decade from $100 million in 1990 to more than $2 billion in 2000 since parents have made it clear that they will purchase cell phones for their kids.
According to a report by MLC, 65 percent of high school students use cell phones in school; 25 percent of text messages sent by teens are sent during class; the typical American teen sends and receives 50 or more messages a day; 31 percent of teens send and receive more than 100 texts a day; and 15 percent of teens receive more than 200 texts a day.
The stats speak for themselves. Cell phones have not only found their way into schools, they are running rampant.
There are obvious benefits to teens having cell phones present in school. Many will remember the panic that ensued on September 11 as kids desperately wanted to get a hold of their parents but the majority had to wait in line at the school main office to use the landline since they didn’t have cell phones. In addition, mobile phones have purpose in school when kids need to send a quick text to their parents that they will be home late because of basketball practice.
However, there is no purpose in having a cell phone with you in Pre-Calc simply so that you can send 50 text messages.
Here’s a message to all you teens out there (from someone who still remembers that it is cool to have leading edge technology and an up-to-date Twitter account): put the phone down and give your fingers a break. You won’t remember that Facebook status you posted during AP English but you will certainly remember the 2 you get on your AP exam and the fact that you didn’t place out of English 101 at college.