Yesterday's Boston Globe had an article describing frustrated college professors who are at their wits end with facebooking, web-surfing, texting inattentive students in their classes. http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2011/04/24/colleges_worry_about_always_plugged_in_students/?page=1. As a college professor, I feel their pain. What was surprising to me is that the professors who were quoted in the paper represented elite universities including Harvard and MIT. My take-away...a very universal problem. Here I was thinking it was just my students. The problem is that students now come to class with laptops telling us that note taking by hand is problematic, and that typing notes works better for them. I get that. Unfortunately all classrooms now are wireless and students can get on the Internet while in class, and I guess while "taking notes" on their laptop. The consequence is that the temptation of getting on facebook, and reading the humorous and random postings of fellow facebookers, or surfing the web is way stronger than listening to either their professor or their classmates. For me, I have seen a direct correlation to the laptop/facebook/internet grade equation. Many of those students do not do well in my classes. The addiction is so strong that I have had students sitting in the front row, on facebook, texting or googling right in front of me, blissfully unaware of me standing right in front of them.
Here is where you come in. Do not feed your teen's addiction. If you are planning to send your teen off to college, this is the time, right here right now, to help your son/daughter to develop self discipline. You will be spending enormous amounts of money to educate you kids, and if they don't have an awareness of their use of technology and how it affects their attention and learning, you will be wasting your money. I'm guessing that over the last few years parents of my students have not been happy with the D's and F's I have had to give their kids. As more and more teens are given smartphones and laptops at earlier and earlier ages, their concentration quotient decreases, and by the time they get to college, if something is deemed "boring" they can find instant entertainment elsewhere.
I know this is a problem for you, because more and more of the coaching requests I receive are from parents frustrated by this problem, and feeling helpless to intervene. Last week third term grade report cards were sent home from most middle and high schools. I have had an avalanche of calls, especially from parents of juniors who see college options slipping away as their kid's grades dip. Too much texting, too much facebooking, too many video games, the culprit.
Regardless of the grade issue, your teens need help developing discipline. It does not come naturally, and can be extremely painful, especially for those kids who have been given unlimited access without supervision. They will not be happy. But that's life, really, that's life. And that is perhaps one of the most important lessons you can teach your teen. Remember the Rolling Stone song: " You can't always get what you want." Tomorrow's blog Part 2: Strategic tools for successful learning