From the article “Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children”
By Jane E. Brody
Texting looms as the next national epidemic, with half of teenagers sending 50 or more text messages a day and those aged 13 through 17 averaging 3,364 texts a month, Amanda Lenhart of the Pew Research Center found in a 2012 study. An earlier Pew study found that teenagers send an average of 34 texts a night after they get into bed, adding to the sleep deprivation so common and harmful to them.For the most part, I’m going to duck the many frightening implications of the above paragraph. I’d like to hone in on one aspect of texting only. I wrote about the bathroom break problem in an recent post. Texting plays a big role in that problem and lengthens many bathroom breaks to boot. Students go to the bathroom to text in peace. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that more than 1/3 of the bathroom “emergencies” I encountered last year involved a desire to text. The fraction of girls who are sneaking out to text will be even higher. Even when texting does not motivate the bathroom request, I’m sure texting often happens as part of that bathroom break. Why waste a chance to find out about Rafael’s love life? Why not crush some candy? Or play virtual football? Or listen to the latest from Ludacris? In some situations, parents may feel they must send cell phones to school with children for safety reasons. If the phone must go to school, that’s fine. But automatically handing our kids their cell phones may not be in their best interests. What is the good of having a cell phone in school? The ability to play games, text friends and listen to music sucks time away from learning and inhibits face-to face social interaction. In many cases, cell phones should be parked at home until the school day has finished and the homework has been done. For kids, cell phones are nothing but toys. Handing kids a toy to play with throughout the school day cannot serve their best interests.