Phil Keith brings up a number of interesting points in his column [“The Times, They Are A-Changing,” Mostly Right, Opinion, October 17].
At first glance, I agreed with Mr. Keith’s sentiment that teenagers are developmentally at a place where they are still growing the skill of “common sense.” This feels right.
And, in a lot of ways, I feel sad that teens are surrounded by technology at every turn at a time in their lives when they are experimenting, exploring, growing and learning from mistakes — many of which will now follow them for life because of a moment’s lapse in judgment.
I was a teen in the late 1990s, and we made mistakes then, too. Teens make mistakes. It is inherent to the human condition, as echoed by Mr. Keith’s own experiences. However, now with technology omnipresent, the time and space for learning from those mistakes is nearly absent.
Mr. Keith speaks about schools and their role in managing this epidemic — but he leaves out parents and their role in access to said technology. It is the work of schools to teach students relevant skills, and certainly one of those now is how to use current technology, including computers, tablets, robotics and a host of others.
Now, because so many teens have smartphones, the school is also tasked with trying to make these relevant in a classroom setting to limit their distraction. Teens are given these phones by their parents and family, even begrudgingly, but they are given with some type of consent. They are not school-issued. Parents want unlimited access to their teens, something that would not have been the case in the 1960s, even well through my time in the 1990s and early 2000s — and this comes with a price.
There is a flip side to this instant access: Teens now also have the same instant access. The same kids who were giving classmates “wedgies” at school, something that if caught on camera and posted to the web would have repercussions for sure in this day and place, are now the parents who have given their teens smartphones.
If we are going to ask teens to take responsibility for their actions — and we should, as part of developing “common sense” — then perhaps the question is not “what is the role of the school in managing social challenges?” but “what is the role of the parent?”
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One fine body…