My students started having cell phones about ten years ago. Only a handful had one and we, teachers, had to worry about things that already seem to belong to the ice age.
Thus when we first went to Sweden on the school exchange, I kept warning one of the happy few about repeatedly lending his phone to his friends as the bill his parents would receive would be horrendous. He smiled but did not really heed my words; I think he was so proud of the prestige it gave him that he overlooked the bill. It turned out to be just that: horrendous.
Only one or two years later, most of our school students had phones. We now had to worry about preventing them from sending text messages during lessons. Occasionally a phone would ring or emit a short signal, we would take the phone and bring it to the admininstration who would keep it for a week. The word spread and you would no longer have to worry about phones ringing during lessons.
Eight years later and we have now to face a new generation and a new attitude. Students will risk anything to keep in touch with their peers on a permanent basis. They hide their phones in their bags and leave the bags on their desks. They hide them up their sleeves or in their pencil cases. Every now and again we will see a student absorbed in something which obviously is not what you are talking about. Whenever we manage to spot a phone and take it even the most pleasant student turns into a raging monster and ends up swearing at you, screaming and/or crying their eyes out.
What’s more, either the word no longer spreads among them or they couldn’t care less but the next phenomenon will be observed the next day with a different student. I am afraid they know what is bound to happen but cannot envisage losing touch with their friends for 55 minutes.
As a teacher I wonder what we can do to persuade these kids to give up their phones during lessons. As a human being I wonder how and why “we” created a generation which is so digitally-addicted and what parents tell their kids about what their attitude should be regarding mobile phones in class. As a Jew I wonder how observant parents manage to instill such a love of Torah (for want of a better expression) that their teenagers will give up their phones and computers for 25 hours every week.