The act of socializing appears to have slowly diminished mostly due to social media outlets in the last five years. Compared to the '50s, when teens met by the jukebox to gossip about their weekly crush or while tuning cars shared juicy details about late night dates, these chats have been swapped with real time status postings. Setting dates to meet up were common considering they could not simply text their latest news or tweet their inner thoughts. Fast forward to a generation where verbal conversations are no match for communication via twitter and Facebook, we seem to be lacking eye contact and genuine interest. It's almost socially awkward to see kids honestly enjoying each other's company without a hand held conversation simultaneously going on with someone who isn't even present. How can we regain the moments we have lost due to technology? And are they lost forever? Have you forgotten your phone at home and suffered from anxiety? Then I'm talking to you!
I have recently observed first hand a new generation of children who have lost interest in playing outside and who rather sit on a computer and play virtual video games of children... get this... playing outside! Honestly, who thought that society would result in being more interested in vicariously living through a monitor then actually witnessing what life has to offer. I have seen the change in our youth, I remember back to the day when I sat on my stoops waiting for friends to pass on their way to the school yard and how the group increased as each home was passed and a new member would join us. All of us were different, unique and had something to offer. We did not network once home because using a land line was the only option and parents did not allow late night phone calls to interrupt family time. We spread new gossip via word of mouth and always were amazed how fast it would spread. The original Facebook was literally a book that held gossip and traveled in the hands of your worst enemy, your crush or even best friend. Secrets were passed in a classroom and usually slipped in the wrong hands. When did the importance of our thoughts and the need to publicize them become so imperative that it washed out social interaction completely?
Recently a middle school teacher mentioned that in her district they have allowed the use of cell phones in the classroom. Who was on the board and actually allowed this to happen? What type of academic decision was this based on and what is the need for a cell phone is a classroom? I still haven't wrapped my head around why children have cell phones. Understanding the crime crisis and in case of an emergency situation, but what is the need to allow them to have access to a cell phone in school? Allowing this should be right under allowing them to attend school in pajamas and have nap time in college. Students have met a new level of comfort in our school districts and have raised the bar on receiving top-notch treatment, but clearly there cannot be a parent who agrees this should be allowed. Is there? During final exams, a pop up quiz or even homework assignments, how do you expect a child to honestly not text, tweet or update their status or possibly reach out for assistance? The attention span of a middle school child is already focused on puberty and developmental issues, having a media source now will just sidetrack them off their work and create more of a challenge for teachers.
As part of the Devin & Tristan Give Back organization, we have decided to focus our attention this summer to some sort of outdoor activity meshing parents with their children and trying to recreate conversation. As part of this, we will discourage the use of media during the event with carefully chosen activities forcing them to walk away from the cell phone. We will consider it a challenge but should this work, the possibility of engaging parents with their off spring will be quite the reward. The use of electronics is widely popular and definitely increasing, there is no way to reverse this but reintroducing dinner time with family and acting as a union rather than separated by useless gossip via handheld device should become a priority. I challenge you tonight to ask the attendees of your social gathering to check the phones in and allow the flow of general conversation to take over all of you for the evening. Can this still happen or will there be the one victim who will be tempted to scratch the "cell phone Itch?"