2 limit txtN, jst taK awy ph. (English translation: To limit texting, just take away phone)

In the last few weeks, I have talked to several parents about how much time their kids spend texting. Now, a new study says kids text one another more than they talk to one another.  And the phones are creating problems with schools.

According to the Pew Research Center and the University of Michigan, half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day; one in three send more than 100 messages a day; and 15 percent send more than 200 text messages daily, or more than 6,000 texts a month.

I am not sure why parents are bemoaning this situation. There seems to be an easy fix.

Take away the phones. I feel like too many of us have bought into the idea that kids — even elementary age children — must have cell phones for safety. If you give a child a phone that can do all sorts of cool things, including texts, photos and game, kids will use the phones to do all those things. And they will do them in school.

I hate to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but just take the phones away if kids abuse them and the problem goes away.

According to an AJC story:

Teenagers have embraced text messaging as their main form of communication, but mobile phones are often a source of tension with parents and schools, a new survey found.

The frequency with which teens text has overtaken every other form of interaction, including instant messaging and talking face-to-face, according to a study scheduled for released Tuesday by researchers at Pew Research Center and the University of Michigan.

Three-quarters of teens now own cell phones, up from 45 percent in 2004. Of those who own cell phones, 88 percent text, up from just over half in 2006.

At the same time, cell phones and teens’ attachment to them are a source of conflict with parents and schools. Many parents limit cell phone use and 48 percent said they use it to monitor their kids’ whereabouts — either by using GPS technology or calling the child to check in. Not surprisingly, the parents of girls aged 12 and 13 were more likely to say they monitor cell phone use.

The limits did seem to have tangible benefits. Teens were less likely to report regretting a text they sent, or having sent sexual content by text message, if their parents placed limits on text messaging. They were also less likely to us their cell phones dangerously while driving.

Schools, the survey found, often ban cell phones from classrooms, and some from school grounds entirely, seeing them as a “disruptive force.” Still, more than half of teens who own mobile phones said they have sent a text message during class, even though their school bans mobile phones.

Despite all the media attention to “sexting,” only 4 percent of teens said they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images of themselves to someone else via a text message. Teens who pay their own cell phone bills were more likely to send “sexts” than those whose parents pay for all or part of their bill.

The survey of 800 teenagers aged 12 to 17 and their parents was conducted on landlines and cell phones from June to September 2009. It was conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the University of Michigan’s Department of Communication Studies.

The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

78 comments Add your comment

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: 2 limit txtN, jst taK awy ph. (English translation: To limit texting, just take away phone) http://bit.ly/9jRBHH [...]

catlady

April 21st, 2010
7:50 am

I agree. Either that, or the teenager should pay for texting themselves with a regular part-time job. But little kids don’t need cells–you cannot convince me that they do. Our school takes up a half dozen a week (and we don’t live in an affluent area-70% of our kids get federally paid lunch.)

If my child were texting that much, I would seriously wonder about their lack of social opportunity and ability to communicate face to face–important skills in the real world.

Musicteacher

April 21st, 2010
7:55 am

As a teacher, cell phones are the bane of my existence. I write up very few students; when I do, it is almost always because the student had a cell phone out in class. At my school, the students are supposed to keep their phones off and place them in their lockers. I see absolutely no reason for students to have cell phones at school, period. Don’t tell me that they need them to notify their parents when basketball practice or the schoool dance has ended. Those types of arrangements should be made ahead of time. And when students tell me, “Well, my parents want to be able to get in touch with me,” my response is “We do have phones in the school office, and they can both send and receive calls.” Now that we are administering the CRCT, special directions have to be given with regard to cell phones, and if a student is discovered with a cell phone during testing, it has to be reported as a testing irregularity. My third grader even has friends who have cell phones. Give me a break!

Okay, stepping off soap box now…..thanks for letting me vent.

Musicteacher

April 21st, 2010
7:56 am

Maureen Downey

April 21st, 2010
8:00 am

musicteacher, I agree. The argument that these phones are for safety is often made. But there has been a rash of middle school incidents in which kids use their phones to transmit sexually explicit photos of one another, which I think in itself creates danger for adolescents who have no idea how quickly their photos can be sent to the wider world.
I just think we are giving kids these versatile electronic tools, and they are using them for stupid things, which is what kids do. If you give me a phone that can snap photos, I am going to snap photos. If I have unlimited texting, I am going to text.
Not sure why we parents are baffled that kids are using these phones for exactly what they are designed to do.
Maureen

V for Vendetta

April 21st, 2010
8:06 am

catlady,

Isn’t that funny? It’s amazing how the kids at my school who are on Free/Reduced lunch get dropped off by parents driving BMWs, Mercedes, Audis, etc. They have nicer clothes than I do. They have nicer phones than I do. END THE PROGRAM.

Anyway, cell phones . . . I am totally in agreement with Maureen. If parents actually did their jobs–just like they should be doing with diet, exercise, discipline, TV, video games, etc.–then we wouldn’t have this problem in schools and Language Arts classrooms. (I’ve heard some great stories about kids using texting shorthand in their final drafts of essays–and they don’t see anything wrong with it!)

Here is a simple statement I want all of the parents to repeat to themselves five times before dealing with your children: “I am NOT my child’s friend. I am his or her parent. I am NOT my child’s friend. I am his or her parent . . . .”

Tony

April 21st, 2010
8:11 am

For centuries, kids growing up have always done stupid things. That’s why parents have always had to use their parental authority to rein in the problematic adolescents. Each generation has had some sort of big issue and every generation has had to deal with sexually related incidents.

Imagine, parents being parents by setting and enforcing limits. Whether those limits be for the use of cell phones, amount of computer time, or any other modern phenomena. Parents are supposed to guide their children through these years and urge them to develop habits that promote success in life. These habits include self-discipline, strong work ethic, and respect for others (among the many other important character traits).

As for teaching, cell phones and other electronic devices will one day be incorporated into everyday life. Applications are in development right now that will allow students to text answers to the teacher during class time. The teacher’s computer can summarize the messages from students, grade them, and post results all in real time.

As cell phones and mobile devices improve their capabilities, it is forseeable that these machines will become necessary to function in school. Textbooks will be viewed using mobile devices, students will access information via their own device, teachers can send video and other content information to students.

The world is changing and schools must find a way to keep up.

EducationFirst

April 21st, 2010
8:12 am

Instead of collecting the phones, why don’t we utilize them in the classroom. Businesses are using the technology for marketing, we could use it for learning; excellent for formative assessments. Check it out: http://www.ivisionmobile.com/mobile-marketing/mobile_solutions_mobile_surveys.asp

Reality Mom

April 21st, 2010
8:15 am

I have to disagree with music teacher. The coaches at my sons school (9th grade) end practice at a different time every day and want them picked up right then. I have to leave my job to go pick him up and then go back to work. I cant just sit there for an hour if practice runs over.

Silly

April 21st, 2010
8:18 am

When my straight A, 2 sport athlete has her grades drop, then I will take it away. That was one of the rules I placed on her phone – if I see a drop in grades, the phone is gone. It has been 6 years and no drop. It is the parents responsibility – they know their kids best.

Reality Mom

April 21st, 2010
8:19 am

We also do not have a land line at our house so we all have our own phone. Our son had a pretty nice looking phone that he picked out (no media only talk and text) but he got mad one day and threw it and it broke. Now he has an old RAZOR phone and is embarassed to use it in front of his friends. Oh well…..he has to save up $$ if he wants a new one.

Maureen Downey

April 21st, 2010
8:19 am

Reality mom, But why can’t kids use the school phone to call and let you know? (That is what my oldest two had to do in middle school to alert me to when practices were over.)
Or why can’t the coaches let kids use their phones?
Maureen

Reality Mom

April 21st, 2010
8:28 am

Maureen…I guess they could use the office phone. I don’t think that the office staff is still there when practices are over so I don’t know.

Why should the coach have to let 30 kids (or more) use their phone?

HaHa

April 21st, 2010
8:32 am

@catlady..Oh goodness, I could spend an hour or more talking about my coworker and free lunches and her being a single Mom that gets no child support..I know that things have changed, but I don’t think that every child needs a cell phone in school..Unless like Tony and EducationFrist said, make it a useful tool to learn..

Musicteacher

April 21st, 2010
8:38 am

Reality Mom, that is an issue that the coach needs to resolve. As a parent, I would not let my child attend any practice or event unless I know the start time and end time. I agree, you should not be waiting for an hour; therefore, the coach needs to set his end time in advance and communicate that to the parents. I taught chorus for many years, and I communicated to my students and their parents when my events would begin and end. Rides were expected to be arranged in advance, as I also did not want to wait with other people’s children for an hour, and I could not imagine that parents would not want to know when to retrieve their children.

Secondary Ed.

April 21st, 2010
8:38 am

This is a very simple issue. At my school you simply take them up when they are in the students’ hands between the hours of 8 am and 3:15pm. Mommy or Daddy have to come in to get the phone. Additional offenses result in additional punishment. Like I said, very simple. We have very few problems with cell phones at our high school because teachers follow this simple procedure. Inconveniencing parents is a very good deterrent.

Musicteacher

April 21st, 2010
8:47 am

Secondary Ed., you’re correct that taking away the phones is an excellent deterrent. This used to be the practice at my school, but one phone misplaced by a teacher (instead of being taken to the office and locked in the vault, as was the procedure), and the school having to cover the cost of the lost phone, resulted in a new practice. Now we simply tell the student to turn the phone off and put it away (yeah, right) and refer the student to the administration for discipline. This is why we have repeat offenses.

Another issue with cell phones at school is in relation to school emergencies. If there is an evacuation, bomb threat, etc., hundreds of students will be on the phone to their parents. These parents will show up at the school, causing a traffic nightmare for law enforcement and emergency vehicles. The administration at my school has expressed this concern on more than one occasion (another great reason to ban the phones at school, IMO).

Jan

April 21st, 2010
8:50 am

My kids both understand that having a cell phone is a priviledge and their possession of a phone is solely for MY convenience. I have made that clear from the first day. I can, have, and will pull their phones for any infraction of the school’s rules on cell phone usage or for any infraction of my rules. I can check their text messages at any time without warning. I have limits for minutes used and texts sent/received and there are severe consequences for exceeding those limits. So I don’t have an issue with my kids and their cell phone. If it becomes an issue, the phone reverts back to the true owner… ME.

My2Cent

April 21st, 2010
8:51 am

I think that cellphones are very beneficial. I received my first cellphone (that I paid for) my senior year of high school. This was 2002 when most kids didn’t have them. It was very beneficial for me and my mom because she was able to have constant contact with me. I was in the marching/concert band, and sometimes practice times were erratic. Yes, I did have the option of calling her on the school phone, but it was more convenient for her to have a direct phone number to access me.

Furthermore, I started using public transportation to get to school in the morning, and it was mandatory that I called her every morning when I arrived to school so that she knew that I arrived safely. So, cellphones are very beneficial, but should only be handled by responsible teens (not kids).

Morrus

April 21st, 2010
8:54 am

Vote out the incumbents and start over

j

April 21st, 2010
8:56 am

I think it would be far more interesting and useful to use the phones for instant polling, backchannel responses, and finding other ways to embrace and teach ethical use of a technology they are clearly excited about than to simply try to remove them. Why should school be a reality-free zone? Think of the phones as an opportunity in information technology teaching and ethical use. Plato made the same disparaging remarks about new-fangled book printing technology thinking it would lead to the inability of students to remember anything or to be indoctrinated with dangerous ideas. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future we will look as absurd for wanting to try to ban a ubiquitous communication tool in our schools.

Reality Mom

April 21st, 2010
9:01 am

Music Teacher….I do want to know when to pick up my son….that is why he has a phone. Practice ran late…got over early…someone elses parent offered to take him home or he wanted to go eat with friends. I can’t be there all the time but I am usually only a phone call or a text away.

If the school rule is to turn if off and put it up, then that is what they should enforce. Everyday…Everytime. My son has called me from the office at school during the day and he lost his phone for a week when school first started for texting during class. I think he learned his lesson because it has not happened again.

Secondary Ed.

April 21st, 2010
9:03 am

MusicTeacher we have had phones go missing as well. Our administration simply explained that a rule was violated and the misplaced phone is not the responsibility of the teacher, school, or school system. Our message is clear>> Follow the rules and unfortunate things do not happen.

Producer

April 21st, 2010
9:04 am

Take the phones away until lunch. Kids can use them at lunch then back in the teacher’s drawer until school ends. Problem solved.

V for Vendetta

April 21st, 2010
9:17 am

Maureen,

When it comes to football, the practices are usually over so late that most of the school is closed. However, they could use the phone in the coaches’ offices or their cell phones.

Reality Mom,

If my child were in ninth grade and threw a phone against a wall, it would be a long time before they ever saw a cell phone again. Heck, I wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior out of a middle school student. Perhaps that’s the problem. The punishment shouldn’t be “now you have to use an old phone.” It should be “now you have NO phone.”

Musicteacher

April 21st, 2010
9:20 am

Secondary, I agree wholeheartedly with your administration’s view of the cell phone rule. Would that this were the practice where I teach; however, our administration isn’t willing to take that stand. Too afraid of parent calls to the county office, I suppose. That’s another discussion for another day.

Hopping off now; must get some work done while the kiddos are taking the CRCT. Have a most excellent day, everyone.

clueless

April 21st, 2010
9:28 am

“Three-quarters of teens now own cell phones”, including those on free & reduced lunches.

$1-2/month tax on those phones would make up the cuts in education funding, don’t you think?

A Different Opinion

April 21st, 2010
9:29 am

Maureen, I’m proud to call you a “Fuddy-Duddy” because I agree with you :) Parents should teach their kids to be responsible in the use of their phones, computers, etc. and if they don’t exhibit this responsible behavior, take away the priviledge. You have to set parameters for your children or they will try you.

WOW…..this is the second time I’ve agreed with you….I must be getting old.

cgregister

April 21st, 2010
9:37 am

Parents, You do know that you can block texting from the phone, right? I have worked in the school system for 30 years and it is always something. At one time, it used to be beepers, now it is cell phones. It is the parents/students responsibilty to know and follow the rules. It should not have to be up to the teachers/administrators to “police” these rules, as if they don’t have enough things to do. Why do students need to have them in the classroom? You aren’t supposed to be able to contact either way during the school day. If they have to have a phone, stress to your child that it belongs in their LOCKER until after school is out, otherwise, it should be taken from the student, given to an administrator and put in safe keeping. The only way it can then be returned is for a parent to come in for a conference and to retrieve it. If it is taken a second time, a student should be suspended for three days. Both the parent and student need to be held accountable for the rules.

Reality Mom

April 21st, 2010
9:43 am

V…I took the phone away and the first day that I did that, there was an accident on the way to pick him up and I was 45 minutes late and couldn’t call and tell him. He was mad and upset and coach was not happy. It works both ways for us. Each family needs to do what they need to do.

Hey Teacher

April 21st, 2010
9:47 am

Until adults stop texting in line at Starbucks (yes, you …. thanks for spilling your coffee on me while you were checking Facebook on your IPhone) we will not be able to get our students to use cell phones appropriately. As a high school teacher, I am frustrated by an entire generation of students that do not think that texting in class is a sign of rudeness. But how can I enforce this when texting during a meeting is considered acceptable behavior? I’ve yet to attend a workshop, meeting, staff development course or any other professional learning when the adults in the room didn’t text or check their phones the entire time.

V for Vendetta

April 21st, 2010
9:50 am

Reality Mom,

I’m a coach. My athletes and parents can call my cell phone. Why can’t you just call the coach? Or another parent? There was a time before cell phones existed, believe it or not.

dave

April 21st, 2010
9:53 am

just curious

April 21st, 2010
9:55 am

i applaud all the parents who think that if their child breaks the school’s rule on cell phones they should be taken up and appropriate discipline applied. unless of course its my kid. i have unique circumstances and my kid should not have to follow the same rules as everyone else. this is the respone i’ve run into again and again as having to deal with students caught with cell phones was one of my responsibilities.

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Wounded Warrior

April 21st, 2010
10:17 am

when my 6th grader turns 18, then she can have a phone. a child can’t enter into a contract until then. she will also be able to pay for it, too.

ga peach

April 21st, 2010
10:18 am

What my high school finally did after I graduated is they decided to let students use their phones. They are only allowed to use them before school, between classes, lunch and after school. It has worked out great.

Pluto

April 21st, 2010
10:20 am

Isn’t there a state law on the books that forbids electronic devices in public schools? Most administrators do not abide by the spirit or intent of the law and teachers don’t have time to be cops. I am a firm believer of parents taking charge of their use but when students recieve texts from parents while in school it kind of defeats the whole purpose. One day I want to take the cell phone from a texting addict and throw it against the wall. Hahahahaha!!

Masked avenger

April 21st, 2010
10:34 am

Here’s a cool (albeit slightly illegal) way- find a signal blocker. Turn it on every now and then and watch the kids no nuts they’ve lost their signal. Good times! Over time, as they don’t know if the signal will come in, they give up.

Mom of 4

April 21st, 2010
10:49 am

My 2 teens (13 and 15) have phones with parental controls. Their minutes are limited, ALL texting/internet is blocked, and the phone will only call me, dad, or 911 during school hours and after 9 at night.

Old fashioned and strict? You bet. But, I also teach 7th/8th grade. I know what these darlings are going into the bathroom and taking pictures of and who they are sending them to. The article states that only 4% are “sexting”??? If you include the forwarding of the pictures from one person to another, the percentage would be much higher.

Constant texting is an even more common problem than sexting is. I took up 2 phones the week before the CRCT where the students had texted nonstop from 8 a.m. until the phones were taken. And my pay is supposed to be tied to how much academic growth these students show over the course of a year in my math class? Really? I am not against teens having the phones, I simply wish more parents would monitor and block (if necessary) texting and other features during school hours.

justmy2cents

April 21st, 2010
10:50 am

Interesting debate. I have a daughter about to enter middle school. I am debating getting her a phone, simply because her bus will come long after I am at work, and she is the only child in our subdivision that will be getting on that bus. I need to know my child is safe, but I still don’t want to get her a cell phone. Hmm maybe I will buy her that GPS watch instead.

clueless

April 21st, 2010
10:55 am

Then you take the phone away from the student who is texting in class and mom comes up to school and wants the punishment removed because “I texted her!”

Ron

April 21st, 2010
11:00 am

I agree with V’s earlier post. Additionally kids lock up phones until classes are over and when school is out at 3 PM or so they can retrieve and will have just before extracurricular events. Coaches /staff etc. decide policy during their specific functions to accommodate need to call and possibly receive calls.

Mom of 4

April 21st, 2010
11:07 am

To justmy2cents…My children originally got their phones for the same reason, only it was the bus coming at erratic times in the afternoon. I’m not sure who your cell provider is, but I think most of them offer some sort of parental controls (or will at least block texting). My children complained at first about not being able to text, until I told them to justify why they needed to be able to text. Needless to say, there is no reason to need texting, so they still don’t have it.

AJ

April 21st, 2010
11:11 am

masked avenger — signal blockers are actually illegal…

AJ

April 21st, 2010
11:12 am

but I like the way you think

joe joe

April 21st, 2010
11:16 am

I don’t have kids but I have to say that I’m shocked that you can even bring a phone into a classroom, whether it is on or off. I might be aging myself but it would be the equivalent of me bringing and listening to a Walkman/I-Pod type of device. If you wanted to see zero tolerance, you would get it right there.

high school teacher

April 21st, 2010
11:21 am

When someone posts a video of your daughter on youtube or facebook that was made in the hallway (or locker room or bus) without her knowledge, you will understand why schools don’t want cell phones.

Producer, I don’t want to be responsible for $500 pieces of electronic devices in my desk drawer.

Until your child is driving, there is no need for your child to have a cell phone. You can contact your child’s school in case of emergencies, which is what the whole world did before cell phones. If a coach is irresponsible enough to have practice end at different times each night, insist that your child be allowed to use the coach’s phone. If you want to see if your child made it to school, you can always email the child’s teacher or call the office to see if he or she was counted present.

I apologize for being snippy; I am still ticked off at Sonny…

The Librarian

April 21st, 2010
11:42 am

My 39-year-old parapro and her teenage daughter text each other all day. It drives me nuts, mainly because it’s just drama, drama, drama all the time. She cannot see how ridiculous she looks to other adults. In addition, many of her child’s friends have her number and send texts throughout the day. A few years ago the principal and SRO warned her about having kids as friends on
Facebook, and I have tried to discourage her from networking with children, but since she has known these kids since kindergarten, she does not think that they will ever turn on her and cause her any trouble, but I suspect it may be coming soon.

I have know other parents who think it’s cute to send a text to their kids just to say “hi” or inquire about their day. Please, stop it, now!

Naming the hypocrites since 1962

April 21st, 2010
11:51 am

@ Reality Mom

“Our son had a pretty nice looking phone that he picked out (no media only talk and text) but he got mad one day and threw it and it broke.”

Sounds like you have more problems then your son texting. Like your name though.Your spawn is the reality that teachers have to deal with daily.