Saturday, May 06, 2006

Cell Phones and their Discontents

Parents are demanding that their kids be able to bring cell phones into NY public schools.

City Councilwoman Letitia James said she's introducing a resolution to stop schools from confiscating cell phones, which she said were vital lifelines for parents and their children.

"Quite simply, this is a safety issue," James said. "It's a safety issue that we have to resolve."

It's astounding how quickly new technologies become a necessary part of life. You would think Ms. James had never considered a world in which children didn't have phones in school buildings, even though cell phones are relatively new. New technologies seem to create new psychological realities. Instead of being a gadget, they become "lifelines". They change the way that we percieve public space- here it's suddenly unsafe without private interactions- and the way that we percieve our relations to others. Here the technology clearly clashes with social establishments, and undermines the previous order.

But, of course, we all know that cell phones are just a tool like any other. Right?

3 comments:

The Pagan Temple said...

This is the kind of crap that makes me an advocate for school board members to be appointed by a board appointed by the various state governors, as oppossed to running for election to the post in their individual district. The fact that a new York councilwoman is being bugged and her time being taken up over such a stupid issue just goes to show you the kind of stupididty a school board member has to put up with from his or her "cosntituents" which goes a long way toward explaining why American schools, at least, are going to hell in a handasket.

jingyang said...

Obviously this woman hasn't been inside a classroom since she was a kid. It is incredibly disruptive when a cellphone rings in class.
I'm also puzzled as to why children would need to be 'always contactable'. Simply calling the school office has worked well enough for well over a century now :-)
I think the parents may have some control or 'letting go' issues here.
The idea of a 'lifeline' cracks me up too. It sounds like the children are in a daily war zone where they need to be able call in an airstrike, or medievac :-)

Rufus said...

P.K.,
It does show you what crap they have to deal with in public schools. It also shows you how dedicated parents are to micromanaging their poor kids lives.

jing yang,
That amused me too- you never know what might happen to a child while they're sitting in class! Their very lives could be at stake!