Kids and Screens – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about allowing my three-and-a-half-year old have access to many different screens and how we monitor it.


I spend a good amount of my teaching day asking kids to please put away the phones and iPods. Just a sampling of some of my most over-used requests as of late:

So-and-so, please put the phone away.

We are not using translators right now, so I shouldn’t see phones.

Take the earbuds out. I don’t care that your music is not on. It’s rude.

Do you notice how I am talking right now? That means you should be listening to ME.

How about I just take that for now since you can’t seem to keep your hands off it.

School kids on cell phones between classes

Image: GettyImages (RF)

While this may seem like perfect proof for why all electronics should be banned from the classroom, I disagree.  I think technology has a very important place in the classroom, the problem is that kids don’t know know the line between appropriate use and completely disrespectful.

I’d like to say this is just a teenage thing, but I have seen the behavior from adults in public as well.

Texting while a at a customer service desk or in a staff meeting as someone is giving a presentation. Playing music on their phone so that everyone can hear it instead of using earbuds. Yapping loudly on the phone about personal (and usually inappropriate) issues in aisles of stores.

Why does having a piece of technology suddenly make people rude?

My guess is most people have not really been taught Tech Etiquette.

This is another reason I think it’s vital to have technology accessible in schools. Not only does it give me as a teacher a whole new world of tools for communicating and interacting with students and content, but it helps to deliver life lessons to students about use of technology as well.

Not only do I use laptops and WiFi to teach students how to use Google Drive and Presi for working on projects with others, but I can teach them about choosing reliable websites.

I don’t just have my students use smartphones for reviewing material as a class and looking up words for Spanish projects, but I teach them what is appropriate and acceptable use while people are talking to them.

When you walk in my classroom, I expect you to remove your earbuds. If you are working on an individual activity, you may quietly listen to music. If we are taking an assessment, I should not see any technology out unless you want a zero. When you are working with a group, you put music away. You need to talk to your group members, not stare at a phone or iPod.

It seems like common sense, but in this world where most teens sleep with their phones within reach so they can text 24 hours a day, polite technology use is not all that common.

In my own home, we turn off all technology and put it “to bed” on a charging station in the kitchen. Electronics are not allowed in bedrooms. No tablets, phones, ipods, computers…nothing.

I strive to teach my children and my students that technology is a wonderful tool and a privilege to have access to, not a right or license to ignore the rest of the world.


  1. I should really stop bringing my phone to bed with me. I listen to sermons online while I fall asleep. It’s kinda like my own little version of meditation. Still…I find that I check all my random accounts as soon as I wake up instead of greeting the day!

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