Dickson: I’m committed to not texting my kids while they’re in school

Mar 14, 2024, 6:00 AM

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) Follow @amandadickson...

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

I want to ask my children’s teachers for forgiveness. I am guilty of texting my kids during school, but it stops now.

How many stories have I reported on KSL NewsRadio about the problems caused by cell phones in schools? Dozens? More? And yet, when I read an article this week from the Associated Press encouraging parents to stop texting their kids during school hours, I stopped.

Wait. I do that. What time was that last text? Oh, shoot — 11:45 in the morning? Of course, he’s in school!

What teachers say

I asked Kimberly Gardner, who has been a teacher in both elementary and middle schools for more than 30 years, whether this is a problem.

“This can be a very big issue,” she said. “It used to be a bigger issue at our school, but the last two years we’ve had a policy where if we see kids on their phones after the morning bell rings or before the end of the day bell rings, their phones are taken to the office.”

What absolutely can’t wait messages have I sent my son during the school day in the last month?

Hi honey — do you need a ride home?

Dad is making hamburgers tonight unless you want something else.

I love you!!!!!!!!!!!

All of those could have waited until after 3 p.m. Of course, if it’s ever an emergency, phone policies go out the window. I know that students will be allowed to use their phones if it really, truly is an emergency, but (thank goodness) that has never happened.

How big of a problem is texting in school?

You can experiment if you want to see how big of a problem this is for teachers. Tell your child to take his phone off silent and turn the notifications on. It’s even more impactful if everyone in the family does it at the same time. It will sound like a symphony of dings and buzzes.

If your child gets those interruptions when she’s in school, it will take her minutes to bring her focus back to the lesson, if she comes back at all.

What we’re robbing our kids of

Plus, and this is big, when we text our kids during the day or respond to their texts, we are robbing them of the chance to learn how to solve problems on their own.

“By texting back and forth with a parent, a child is unable to practice either self-calming or problem-solving skills,” explained Dr. Libby Milkovich, a developmental and behavioral pediatrician, to the Associated Press. “It’s easy to text, but if I don’t have a phone, I have to go ask the teacher or I have to figure it out on my own.”

Those words hit home for me. I pledge, from this day forward, to not only not text my son when he’s at school, but I will not respond to any of his texts that are not an emergency. No longer will I give an immediate thumbs up to his text that says, I picked up a shift tonight at 6.

Gardner reminded me that parents are always free to call the office, and messages are immediately passed to students.

“So, when parents say that they need to talk to their student quickly, that’s a cop-out (in most cases),” Gardner said.

I hear you, Kim. I am turning over a non-texting leaf today!

Amanda Dickson is the co-host of Utah’s Morning News and A Woman’s View on KSL NewsRadio. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Dickson: I’m committed to not texting my kids while they’re in school