Whenever I took a job subbing in my local school library, I always caught at least a couple of kids sneaking around, doing what they knew not to do–
Instant Messaging (known as IMings) on the school library computers.
And when they weren’t sneaking around instant messaging, they were looking for opportunities to pull out their cell phones in dark corners to text friends, even though they weren’t allowed to bring their cell phones to school. In addition, as a substitute for paraprofessionals for special ed kids, I even caught them being so bold as to pull them out in study halls. Amazingly, the teacher in charge of a special ed classrooms often didn’t demand to hand them over but just whispered, “Put those away. You know the rules.” Then the teacher, herself, would duck out the door and use her own cell, although I’m sure it wasn’t for texting.
Before I sound like a hypocrite, I confess. I’ve done my own share of instant messaging, too, when I had a couple of friends who were around to chat with during the day. It’s fun. But we had our limits. We didn’t spend most of our day connected through chatting online and texting.
Are today’s kids too connected? Do they have any alone time without their cells and instant messaging? Don’t you think instant messaging and texting are way out of control?
I think so. Just recently, the tragic deaths of six beautiful high school cheerleaders served as an example of how texting is out of control. It’s hard enough to talk on a cell phone while driving (and illegal), but try to type, too, and you’re putting your live at an even greater risk.
I’m not saying we should totally limit out kids from instant messaging and texing. We just need to warn them that overdoing it is not a good thing and then, encourage them to limit their IMing and texting time.
Also, we need to caution them that too much of it could hurt their writing skills. Okay, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to computer shorthand—I often don’t capitalize, make incomplete sentences, etc. Just as the kids, I know most of the lingo such as LOL (laughing out loud) BRB (be right back), etc.
What’s more, as a substitute teacher in a public school system, I’ve also seen more compositions and essays look too much like instant messaging—too many essays that read, “r u ready?” That’s right—IM shorthand even shows up in students’ compositions. Constant instant messaging and texting makes us lazy. I know because I’ve found myself writing in lower case in my emails. Hopefully, my email recipients realize I know the rules of grammar (especially since I majored in English in college). Yet, I feel I need to go back to basic writing skills—even in emails.
On the positive side, I suppose all this texting and IMing does make kids write more, expressing their thoughts. However, it seems kids are connected about 99.9% of their waking hours. What ever happened to just being alone to think? To pray? To dream? To just be?
Since the early 1980s, young people have been grouped together–whether it is in sports teams or school projects, they have not been given much opportunity to just be by themselves. You cannot walk on a college campus without seeing most of the kids on their cell phones, blackberries, and now iphones, texting, chatting and IMing. Seldom do you spot a student alone, under a tree, just by himself or herself, just being and thinking about life, without a cell phone or other modern electronic gizmo.
I know—You’re thinking that just getting alone by yourself, without a cell phone, blackberry, Ipod, and i-phone, with no one else by your side, can be a scary thing. It forces you to look at your life-to think. But we all need to do it—to have more alone time.
Yes, I believe kids (as well as us older “kids”) need to break away and spend quality alone time if we’re to grow as human beings. It’s only then we can healthy reconnect and share your strengths and weaknesses, our highs and lows with other human beings. In other words, both kids and adults need more of a balance of alone time and together time to be emotionally healthy people.