Cell phone addiction?

The summer is a good time for us to reflect on the challenges our students faced when they first arrived and how we might think about these as we approach a new academic year.
I recently watched an interview given by the author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek.  I would thoroughly recommend taking a few minutes to look at his work, if you are unfamiliar with it (Facebook.com/simonsinek), as some of his thoughts and observations resonate with me and the work we do at CHN.
International students face many challenges: struggling with a new language and culture shock, homesickness, anxiety about being a long way from home, starting a new school and making new friends, to name a few, but there are other challenges to face which may not be as obvious.
In a world of Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat, some feel pressured to put forward an image of having a great time even if, in reality, they may be unhappy, even depressed. Desperate not to be ‘unfriended’, they struggle to make friendships in a world which seems to depend entirely on social media and messaging.  Some simply do not have the social or language skills needed to make friendships or interact with others in person.
With the instant gratification achieved from online shopping, streaming movies, summoning an Uber or ordering food all from their phone, it is perhaps not surprising that some students appear indifferent to their host families and struggle to engage and participate in the day to day activities.
At the root of this, it seems, is our reliance on, and addiction to, the cell phone.  Are our students missing out on those “innocuous moments” which connect them to people, because instead of talking and perhaps more importantly – listening – they are on snapchat, posting on Instagram, checking text messages.
However, this is not an issue exclusive to students or the younger generation.  Even adults are  guilty of it, and we need to be more aware of how much time we spend on our cell phones.   Let’s face it – smart phones are here to stay – and are getting smarter by the minute.  It is time to think seriously about how we manage our time on our smart phones as it impacts not only social relationships, but also our time at home with our students and loved ones.
When you find your student is not interacting at home, or you are finding it hard to get them to participate because they are constantly on the phone, perhaps it would be wise to look at your own behavior and reliance on the smartphone.  We can be quick to judge our students, but those of us from a different generation need to set an example; to help our students, and our children acquire the skills they need to make their lives happier, simpler, less stressful, more fulfilling whilst managing their time on their cell phones.
– contributed by Hilary Rust, RM in Ottawa