Yesterday I read an article about children and cell phones. It was called Children More Likely To Own A Mobile Phone Than A Book. The title alone was sad. Now, I'm not against kids having cell phones. I know many do, and at a very early age. It seems the average age is ten, or around 5th grade, but I know of younger ones. I understand every parent has their own reason for their kids having phones or not having them. To be honest, cell phones aren't my thing. I don't even keep mine on unless I'm away from home. And even so, that's only if Rick's not with me. If someone calls, they go through him. My girls have phones, but they're adults. The boys still don't have them and at this point, have no need for them.
Back to the article, which was written in the UK, but had studies done in the US -- they said 9 out of 10 students own a cell phone, whereas fewer than three-quarter of them own books in their homes. That's kind of sad. According to the article, it claimed that 80% of children who had access to books in their home were better at reading than children who had less or no books. It said children coming from homes with books remained in education three years longer than kids who came from homes with fewer books. The study says there is a clear link to a child's reading ability when they have easy access to books at their home. Click here to read the article.
Now here's the funny part -- one of my friends posted this on Facebook yesterday. I read her friend's comments and one said she felt literacy levels were rising in the UK because children had cell phones. In order for them to keep in touch with friends, they have to know how to write. Hmmm. I don't know about you, but I'm not sure "OMG, ur so dum, FML n TTYL!" should be considered writing, more or less literate. I thought about it and tried to give kids a break. After all, I use some of those terms when I'm online. But to claim that literacy and communication skills are improving because of cells and texting is absolutely ludicrous. I read another article last night (on a totally different subject) and I was flabbergasted at the comments. Some were obviously written by kids. If you don't believe me, click here. Read the comments and tell me texting and cells are improving our children's communication skills. Please, I beg you. Take your time ... I can wait.
It's depressing when you think about it. Cells are one of my pet peeves. I'm not anti-phone and don't care if others have them. But, I don't need to be in a public restroom and have some lady next to me in another stall think she has to be on the phone while she's on the toilet. Nor do I like waiting at a register while someone text messages and holds the entire line up. Last summer I watched a toddler climb onto a table at the zoo and then fall off. Both his parents finally looked up from their phones only when they heard him crying. And don't even get me started on texting/talking while driving. I'm no saint and I've been on the phone in the car, but only if it's absolutely necessary. I'm a writer, not a chit-chatter or text fanatic. So anyway, it was depressing to hear that kids are more likely to own a cell than a book, but it was laughable when people tried to justify it. Sure, we have phones, but also have shelves and shelves of books. My office/classroom is filled with books. All my kids have bookshelves in their rooms. Right as I sit here, I have several books on my nightstand, a pile on my vanity stool, several more on the vanity itself, some sitting on the floor by my chair, and a big pile of books in a little hamper that need to be put away. Maybe we're just some sort of freakish book family and an exception to what's normal.
However, it's still sad. It's sad to see two friends sitting together, only to be ignoring each other with cells in their hands. Sure, they're communicating, but not with each other. Will this affect us as a society in the future? Kids are our future. What happens if these kids grow up and don't know how to sign their name, more or less write a complete sentence? If you think about it, it seems really grim. BUT! Yesterday I picked up our local paper and on the second page I read this heading: BHS Juniors Earn Recognition for Writing Skills. The article goes on to say how the juniors at Bigfork High School earned higher on their Montana University System Writing Assessment than others of previous years. They scored higher than any Class AA or A school in the state and tied for first among Class B schools. Bigfork was one of several schools in the top quartile that received Awards of Merit from the Montana Board of Regents. Now kids at Bigfork High aren't any different than kids in your town. They probably all have cell phones and that's no big deal. The fact of the matter is that there is hope. Sometimes you to look a little harder to see it. So, yay for the kids at BHS! And now I leave you with this -- TTFN! (I'll let you figure that one out.)