Honestly, I love my students. But they suffer from something I've wrestled with my whole life. As sure as I'm sitting here writing this with Meatballs playing on TV and Facebook idling nearby, my students' future-selves are one day going to be really mad at their past-selves for not paying more attention in college when they find themselves getting beat out for every job they apply for.
It's impossible for teachers to compete in the classroom with students who are only half-listening as they surreptitiously chat with friends online about some amazing party the night before (thankfully, not all are doing this; some actually want to learn the material). I work hard to make my lessons engaging, but regardless of how much I prance around up there and wave my arms there are always those students who cannot ignore their youthful inclination to succumb to distraction (been there...). But, though they believe that they can multitask in class and still excel in their studies, a recent study found "the exam scores of students who text in class are significantly lower than the exam scores of students who do not text in class. Thus, multitasking during class is considered a distraction that is likely to result in lower grade performance."
My first attempt at curbing this phenomenon was not one of my finer moments. I yelled at them about their impending collision with a life of mediocrity if they continued on this path of distraction! Hearing a raised voice, they looked up from their computers, stared back at me glassy-eyed, and waited deferentially for the storm to pass so that they could quickly get back to their friends online. I was so frustrated I wanted to set rules, make threats and define consequences! But that's the way I parent, so I let it slide. ;)
But this isn't about me, my ego, and whether I'm being respected or not (okay, maybe a little). It's fundamentally about students doing irrevocable damage to their futures and ultimately engaging in self-loathing and winding up in prison after a life of crime.
So, my second approach was to get their attention using humor. With my students' help (they were GREAT!) I made this short, funny (I think) satirical video visualizing what students using social media in the classroom looks like from the professor's point of view. We filmed it with one camera in about 30 minutes and I threw it together in Final Cut Pro with some music and a few sound effects.
It got their attention (they laughed, applauded even!!), and that's saying something.