More Smartphones Than Usual: How To Deal with Teens and Phones After Winter Break

Posted on January 18, 2016, by Hilary Smith

While parents are rejoicing that kids are back in school, and they survived winter break, teachers and administrators might be noticing more students with smartphones. As children get back into the routine of classes, now’s the ideal time to address all those smartphones that were given as gifts for the holidays.

Technology is amazing and offers valuable ways to connect with new ideas, but on any given day teens are exposed to cyberbullying, oversharing, sexting, online predators and online dating aggression. Even though a majority of kids now have unlimited access to social media and the Internet in their hands, it doesn’t mean that they have the necessary tools needed to handle everything responsibly.

Preparing Students For Smartphone Ownership

Walk down any hallway and it’s obvious how prevalent smartphones are with our students. Three-quarters of all teens own smartphones and spend an average of 7½ hours facing a screen every day. That is almost equivalent to a full school day! As our students gain their digital citizenship, it is important that we teach them how to navigate the threats lurking behind the ambient glow of their screens while limiting them from interrupting instruction time.

Many school districts are beginning to include digital literacy in their mission statements and standards. It is our job as educators to address the skills children will need to become successful adults and citizens. Ask yourself the following questions to make sure students can make the grade with their technology safety skills:

  • Do my students grasp the concept of social media etiquette?
  • Have we talked about the permanence of the Internet and the potential impact on the futures?
  • Can my students understand how cyberbullying hurts victims and aggressors?
  • Is there access to “sext” education or other available resources?
  • Does the school teach basic safety skills or ways to protect their identity online?

Preparing A Classroom For A Smartphone Invasion

If you are questioning how to deal with teens and their phones in the classroom, here are seven tips to help manage their devices during instruction:

1. Educate yourself. By understanding the favored technology and apps, you can help children avoid common pitfalls while discovering new activities to enhance lessons.

2. Create a technology contract as part of your syllabus. Write a formal agreement between you and the student clearly stating the expectations and consequences for using their devices in your room. Make sure to include expectations and how situations will be handled.

3. Teach children to keep passwords private, even from friends.

4. Include social media etiquette conversations when using technology in the classroom.

5. Create safe places for students to “check in” their devices at the beginning of class. Some teachers use clear pocket folders or divided boxes at the front of the room to hold phones and take attendance at the same time. Get creative and have fun!

6. Let parents know it is important to monitor a child’s Smartphone and Internet activity. With 70 percent of kids hiding their activity from authority figures in their lives, it can be easy for frightening situations to develop. Encourage parents to be involved and tracking a child’s digital presence.

7. Get students swiping and tapping their screens for educational purposes. Have students use social media to post as historical figures on classroom pages, take online polls, read current headlines and interact with students around the world. Take their love for their new smartphones and channel the energy into worthwhile projects.

How do you manage smartphones in your classroom?

Born and raised in Austin, TX, Hilary Smith is a free-lance journalist whose love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent she now enjoys writing about family and parenting related topics.