I was a little disturbed after reading an associated press article about a new technology that allows kids to report on bullying episodes via text as it is happening. Blackboard’s TipTxt program is being offered free to schools, and would give kids a confidential way to deal with bullying.
Sounds innocent enough, and who doesn’t want to arm kids with more tools to combat bullying? But let me throw a fly into the ointment.
I don’t like kids and teens having cell phones in school in the first place. I’m sorry, but they are a huge distraction. There is no way a 13 year old girl is going to be giving her teacher or team project her full attention if she is waiting for updates on the latest anything on her phone. The anticipation of calls is often more distracting than the calls themselves.
Why don’t we allow kids on athletic fields of play to have them? Can you imagine a shortstop whipping out her phone after throwing out a runner at first base? Or a basketball player checking her texts as she’s running down the floor after a defensive stop? Coaches would go beserk! So what’s the difference?
One-pointed attention is a key ingredient in deep thinking and creative thought. I read recently that the comedian Louis C.K. writes new material on a computer that has no internet access, because he knows he would be tempted to look at fun sites whenever he got stuck. He discovered that being frustrated during periods of writer’s block actually produced more creativity and inspiration. He’d have missed that if he was buying something online during agitated moments.
The new program sounds interesting on the surface, but since it requires kids to have cell phones in school, I’m going to pass on it.
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