I recently accepted “friend requests” from some of my former students who are now in high school. I’ve found myself playing the role of parent more than once, telling them to go to sleep (when I was up late feeding my daughter), to watch their language, and to think before they post a status update that lambasts one of their classmates. Not exactly what I hoped for when I accepted their friend requests, but so far none of them has un-friended me. I think I’ve walked the fine-line between former teacher and “friend” pretty well… so far.
Recently, I’ve noticed a bunch of them posting status updates saying “Off FB for the night. Text me if you need me.” Really? Why on earth would someone need them at 1 a.m.? I let those status updates go since when and where they text should be an issue between them and their parents.
But then, last week, I was watching a segment on “The Today Show” called Advice for Raising Girls in the Digital Age. It featured an interview, about online and texting habits, with three teenage girls. Then, there was an interview with Rachel Simmons, author of Odd Girl Out (Revised and Updated): The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls. (Click here to watch the clip from “The Today Show.”) One of the things Simmons talked about were girls texting after bedtime, which often leads to them writing things that come across as mean or even as (cyber)bullying. Apparently texting in the middle of the night seems to be a habit that extends far beyond my former students. While I’m all for honoring all kinds of writing, I’m more than troubled by the epidemic of this kind of 24/7 connection this generation of children has through texting, e-mail, online/video chat, and other forms of social media. There has to be a point at which children turn-off the computer and their cell phone and do things face-to-face or just get a good night’s rest!
Please watch the segment from “The Today Show” and share your thoughts by leaving a comment. I’d love to hear about ways you have talked or may be talking to your students, girls OR boys, about everything cyberbulling to texting in the middle of the night.
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.