by Lisa Bosco
The familiar classroom sounds of hurried, whispered conversation and shushes from the teacher are becoming a thing of the past as the click-click-tap-tap-tapping of a miniature keyboard is making its way quickly to the top of classroom distractions. I am talking about, of course, text messaging. It started off innocently enough as a way to quickly get in contact with someone when calling them was inconvenient, but recently texting has become a serious addiction in the classroom, as well as within the home itself.
The amount of tolerance given to texting in class has perplexed me over the last few years. It’s an obvious distraction from the lesson when half a dozen students’ phones are vibrating madly on their desks like a legion of rogue jackhammers. And as much as they claim that their phone being on the vibrate setting isn’t distracting, it is obvious to myself as well as teachers that any sort of alert that could measure on the Richter Scale should be counted as a distraction. Not only does the constant buzzing make teachers lose their train of thought during a lecture, but it also distracts the delicate minds of the students sitting around the device. As the text receiver (or textee as I’ve begun to call them) picks up his phone, the first distraction is immediately followed by a lightening fast series of taps and clicks as they answer the texter (or the person who sent them the message in the first place.) He then replaces the phone on his desk and a couple minutes later, the cycle continues. The distraction factor not only takes away from the education of the textee but also from everyone else in the classroom. Is that really fair to all the other students who really just want to learn or at the very least retain enough knowledge to pass the class and move on with life?
The vast majority of teachers, though wise as they are, have yet to seriously reprimand students for texting. There were several occasions as I recall when students were texting each other during tests in order to cheat. This new “passing notes” method of getting ideas across the classroom is proving more difficult to spot with the foolproof “phone in my purse/pocket” techniques of camouflage. Cheating has become almost too simple with the advent of texting and is taking away from the value of getting higher education in the first place. Students are more concerned with simply passing the class rather than learning anything about their intended field of employment. It’s almost too easy to imagine the rude awakening that will befall those students when they graduate in a degree in a subject that they know almost nothing about because texting made it pointless to study and so much easier to just cheat. This will leave us as a community at a loss for those with passion and talent in their work fields and in all will do more damage to society than any good brought about by this technological advancement.
While talking to a couple professors on campus, I’ve discovered that just as I suspected, as the amount of texting on campus increases the general quality of English papers decreases. Students are lost without spell-check and the vivid vocabulary that years of SAT prep has earned them is soon discarded for shorter, simpler words for the sake of, dare I say, ‘convenience.’ The primary concern in the life of college students has taken a turn from academics to socialization and while having friends is certainly a good thing, there is no longer a healthy balance. Hours that used to be spent studying are now devoted to spreading the latest rumor or simply finding out “wutz up?” The degradation of the English language has a lot to owe to the age of texting where short, concise words and abbreviations are taking their place in the forefront of students’ minds and the old methods of sounding it out and memorization are quickly becoming a thing of the past.
School isn’t the only place where texting is beginning to become a problem. In fact, in homes all across America, parents are becoming fed up with talking to the top of their children’s heads as their eyes are always poised down at the screens of their cell phones. Family meals have been reduced to silence as teenagers would much rather say “lol” to their texting comrades than ask how their mother’s day at work was. Not to say that texting is the cause of family turmoil, but it is certainly driving a spike between the two generations. Parents are finding it difficult to communicate with their overly tech-savvy children and those children want nothing to do with their old-fashioned parents. Communication has always been an important part of the family unit and the abuse of text-messaging has caused strain on those lines of contact.
I’m not here to preach about what is right or what is wrong in terms of texting. It is all a personal decision that must be made by the individual. In my opinion, the occasions that require texting are far fewer than what is currently being used. Texting in school causes distractions from the lectures and can bring down everyone’s marks and texting at home can cause a distraction from what is most important in life; the family. Too much of anything isn’t good for you and text-messaging is no exception. Only by opening up true lines of communication between one-another can we combat this epidemic and say “bbn!*” to the distraction that is text-messaging.
*For those less chat-speak savvy: Bye Bye Now!