Monkey See Monkey Do

Sitting in the car going home from work, I look over at my husband; he is immersed in his iPhone.  I’m about to say something like “get off your damn phone already,” but I think, jeeze I’m on my phone probably as much as he is.  Then I look down at my adorable little smiley baby, is he going to be this sucked into technology? Probably…  Though this makes me feel a little sad; it’s today’s reality.

Kids model the behavior of their parents and teachers, and most adults now seem to have their smartphone glued to their palm.  Reading the article When My Dad Banned Text Messaging made me feel a little bit better about my iPhone habits.  The author checks her phone “on the way home from work, after dinner, before she goes to bed, and as soon as she wakes up” – almost as much as me.  I like when she writes that texting is “ubiquitous as the notes we used to pass in school.”   I think texting is  more like writing notes on steroids.  You don’t just have to talk to one person, and they don’t even have to be in the room.  You just need to make sure not to get caught by your teacher.

no texting sign

photo credit :

Texting is just a communication tool, just like the computer or the Internet.  These things aren’t inherently bad.  Bad human behavior when using these tools is the problem.   The interviews with teeagers in the article “Bulling has little resonance with teenagers”  , made me think that we might be handling “cyberbullying” the wrong way.  Cyberbullying is not something that should just be left to the tech integrator.  Teachers, couselors and parents are responsible for teaching this too and the best way to teach it is to model it.   We also need to begin to speak their lingo.  The words cyberbullying and bullying makes me think of a big fat mean kid stealing lunch money.  Kids are not relating to the word “bully” and they don’t even realize when they are doing the bullying.  The idea of cyberbullying didn’t even cross the minds of the two middle school girls that got in trouble at my school last year for cursing each other out over email.   This fight was just like any fight between girls, it was just documented better.   Danah Boyd writes in the article that “Technology is not radically changing what’s happening; it’s simply making what’s happening far more visible.”  I agree with this.  Bad behavior has not suddenly increased because of technology, it’s just more in our face.

Behaviors are learned, so if we want to change how young people are using technology, if we want them to be more responsible and respectful, we ourselves have to be more aware of our habits – which is easy to say and hard to do.  Monkey see, Monkey do