When I wanted to shock the kids I used to teach, I’d just tell them that I only got my first cell phone after I had left school. My father didn’t want to struggle to reach me, so when I left for college he gave me his old Nokia. It had an extended battery. Thrown with enough force it could bring down a cow. (No, I never tried). Most of the time the thing lay in my cupboard in the hostel and I only switched it on to phone home (why do I suddenly have an urge to watch E.T.?)
Having a phone ring in class was the most embarrassing thing that could happen and to send a text while having a conversation was the worst faux pas you could commit. I had one friend who was a self-confessed cell phone addict and we teased her endlessly about it – it was that unusual.
Fast forward a few years and I was working with teenagers who had cell phones at least since they had started high school. For the first time I experienced what it felt like to try and have a conversation with someone who was having a conversation with someone else at the same time (especially after Mxit came into the picture). Luckily I was an authority figure, so I could make them put their phones away, but I’m pretty sure they were still typing texts in their pockets while listening to me.
Then came the smart phone. Continue reading “On how smart phones are making us dumb”