Tag Archives: Text Messaging

To the Pretty Girl Texting in the Car Next to Me

photo from poka0059 via flickr.com

Dear Pretty Girl:

I saw you today as I sat idling at a red light. You were in the blue Prius, and your blonde hair was pulled back in a high ponytail. You had long, thin arms and high cheekbones. As we waited, I noticed your smile. You threw your head back in an open-mouthed laugh. Your teeth were straight and white. You didn’t see me, but I saw you. You picked up your phone to send someone a text.

I kind of freaked out a little. Because as much as I like to think of myself as a rule breaker, well… when it comes to breaking rules that could impact other people’s safety, I guess I’m not so cool with that.

I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you didn’t about New York State’s “Distracted Driver Law” that says folks are not supposed to text while driving. In fact, if you are even caught holding a cell phone in your hand while driving, you are subject to a $150 fine and 2 points on your license. But it wasn’t the practical stuff that bugged me.

See, I imagined my 13-year-old son sharing the road with you in a few years.

I pictured him, seated right where you were — in the driver’s seat — sending texts. Watching you, I got scared.

Like most parents, I want to believe: My kid would never do that.

But they do.

I mean, you were.

And you are someone’s daughter, Pretty Girl.

As red changed to green, I hoped you’d toss your phone aside, but your hot pink cell phone was pressed against the steering wheel as you rolled forward into the world.

So now I watch for pretty girls in blue cars.

I remembered a Public Service Announcement commissioned by AT&T that I had seen a while back that highlighted the dangers of texting while driving. I thought I would share it.

Because the kids are back in school.

And many of them are new drivers.

And the short film makes a pretty big impact about the risks of texting while driving.

Please watch this video and talk about the behavior as a family. Because we all know, it isn’t just kids who text and drive.

Adults do it, too.

I know it’s hard to ignore the thing that bings and pings and buzzes, especially when it is on the seat right next to you.

But we all have to try a little harder.

Have you ever sent a text while driving? Why can’t some people resist the urge to respond to a text message? Do you think texting is an addiction?

Update: I just learned my friend Stacey at transplantednorth wrote on this same topic a few days ago! If you are so inclined, check it out HERE!

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To Touch or not to Touch?: That is the Question

My soon-to-be 6th grade son will attend the school that is  — literally — in my backyard. I’m not kidding. If you stand in my kitchen and look outside, it’s right there: A two-story brick building, designed to look like a dairy farm. If I were a better golfer, I could hit it with my 7 iron. My husband can probably hit it with his sand wedge; it’s that close.

People have warned me that my child will have “no social life” if he doesn’t have a cell phone with a texting plan because kids these days only communicate via text. I am inclined to pshaw this argument because I truly believe that if someone wants to hang out with my son, that kid will resort to (gasp) calling him on our land-line. Yes, that child might have to talk to an adult for a second or two, but it’s my understanding that I’m kinda okay to talk to, so, until I hear otherwise, I’m not worrying about that.

I’ve also been given the “safety” argument from practically everyone, as if having this device will somehow make him safer. I am fortunate to live in somewhat of an old-fashioned neighborhood where people look out for each others’ kids a little bit. If my son can’t get into our house – which would be really a rare instance because he knows the code to our keypad and has the key to the inside door in his back-pack –  he has a Plan B, a Plan C and a Plan D with regard to which neighbors’ homes he might go. He doesn’t need to call me at the point of the problem. He can try to solve his problem and call me when he gets to his destination and let me know where he is. I try to follow the “safety” argument. I get the idea that if your kid is out riding a bike and she falls or her tire pops or the chain fell off, well . . . I suppose a cell phone would be nice so she could call you and say, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” or “My bike is busted,” but assuming there was no real injury – wouldn’t you just want her to get up all by herself, brush herself off, and push the bike home? Because I’m thinking that’s when kids feel a kind of strength, a kind of confidence in handling a problem themselves – without the adult swooping in for the rescue. And if my kid is in THAT bad of shape, somebody, please . . .  call an ambulance. Oh, and I feel compelled to remind you — the school is about 75 yards away. Maybe. How much trouble can he get into between here and there?

Currently, my son and I have an understanding. I don’t want to be the crazy mother out there screaming his name at 7 o’clock when it is time to eat dinner, so he tells me where he is going and if he changes location, he asks politely to use the telephone to call me. This system works beautifully. (For now.) I know where he is; he doesn’t need a cell phone. And I don’t have to be attached to my technology either, waiting for a bing or a ping.

My son’s 11th birthday is fast approaching. He has not asked for a cell phone, but he has asked for an iPod Touch. In my mind, this device brings its own set of problems. It’s expensive. It requires Wi-Fi to send text — which is not always available. I worry less about his social life than about his grammar deteriorating with all the stoooopid abbreviations. He is only just beginning to learn the nuances of conventional grammar, and studies suggest texting interferes with all of that. Texting will also open him up to the not-so wonderful world of cyber-bullying. On the other hand, having an iPod Touch would hold all his music and his old first generation Nano has long been maxed out.

image from google.com

It is the only thing he wants for his birthday.

Still, it seems premature. He’s only 11.

I know adults don’t always want to blab with the chatty parents who are hosting the sleepover, that it is easier to text

im outside

than to get out of the car and go inside and get the child. Isn’t that the real reason we give our children devices with texting plans? For our convenience? To me, it seems like an inconvenience. I simply don’t want to be that attached to my phone. And what is he really getting: a fancy iPod with the ability to play games? Well, he can do that on the computer. And I can set limits on the computer. Right now, when he’s on for an hour, the computer gives him a warning at the “15 minutes remaining” mark and again at the “one minute remaining” mark and then it logs him off. I don’t have the ability to do that with a portable device. (Do I?) What types of rules do people have in place for these things?

Somebody help me out. What is my problem? Am I making much ado about nothing?  What rules have you put in place? What has (or hasn’t) worked for you? What should we expect if we get him one of these gadgets?

Stealth-Mode Purse Texters: OMG!

As if The Mosquito Ringtone isn’t enough (see a few blogs back: 5/22/10), teachers also have to worry about making sure students aren’t texting in class. At Monroe Community College, once in a while, I’ve seen students swishing around in their backpacks and purses for extended periods of time. I usually approach these students and quietly tell them to turn off their cell phones. I want my students to know that I notice what they are doing, that their behavior matters to me.

In “How to Successfully Text During Class: Using Your Purse,” Laura Mae instructs students on how they can master stealth-mode texting. She writes:

First, [get a big floppy purse]. Instead of holding your purse in your lap, try laying it sideways on your desk. Keep the opening … facing toward you. Place your phone near the opening. … Your teacher won’t be able to … see your phone … because he/she will be at his/her desk. So you’re good there. If they suspect something and get up to walk around, casually, without looking, push your cellular device back into your purse with your finger just enough so you’re [sic] phone is covered.

If you have a Qwerty keyboard, you can text, but not as easily as if you have an original keypad. If you do have an original keypad, … memorize how many times you need to press each button for the desired letter. I believe every phone has that little bump in the number 5, so that should be easy to navigate to the letters if you find it. Example: While your [sic] not looking, move your finger to the number five. Move up one key. Press three times. Wait a few seconds. Press once. Move back to the center. Move down one key. Press once. I just spelled “cat.”

The dozens of grammar errors in Laura Mae’s article make it clear to me that Laura Mae has not been listening to her instructors for a while. How could she possibly be paying attention when her brain is expending so much energy on composing blind messages as well as thinking about where she has to place her fingers and how many times she has to tap-tap-tap in order to send her messages so that they will be coherent upon receipt? Or maybe it isn’t so much that she isn’t paying attention, but that she seems to care more so much more about her social life than fine-tuning or editing her ideas, important skills which she will need to draw upon in the future.

The pervasiveness of text-messaging in class poses problems for teachers, particularly in the area of  test security, as students can send answers or hints to fellow students via cell phones, destroying the integrity of an entire test with a few keystrokes. Obviously, cheating damages classroom culture, but this is not really the main issue in my essay driven classroom. More annoying is the fact that instruction is interrupted when someone is caught texting. Then the problem extends beyond breaking the rules and not paying attention because instructors have to stop teaching to handle the situation, disrupting the learning environment, wasting time and tuition.

Some people will give me their best Darwinian argument: Students who honestly pay attention will do well on their tests and papers and end up doing better in life then those who are screwing around with their cell phones in class, so let the texters text and grow up to be ditch-diggers. I’m sorry, but I just can’t buy into that argument: Not at the college level and not at the high school or middle school levels either. And my reasons only partially have to do with concern over future skills. I’m genuinely concerned with civility and respect: Two other important values Americans seem to be eagerly flushing down the toilet.

Is it really so much to ask to turn off the technology and respectfully tune-in to and engage with other humans for 50 minutes?