It was so much better before… people talked to each other… Did they? Must we?

“No Wifi here, we want our customers to talk to each other.” “Look, everybody is looking at their smartphones on public transport instead of …“. Instead of what exactly? Should they rather read the paper, or look at the drab urban scenery instead?

Twenty years ago I would have gone to a cafe and everyone would have their coffee and read their newspaper. They would rarely speak to the other people at their table. It was quiet … and pleasant. And nobody would have thought of putting up a poster saying “No newspapers available, we want our customers to be together and to talk to each other.” Talking to each other is only one way of being together.

We live in a crazy world where schools are seemingly proud to ban mobile phone use and compete with each other (partial or full bans), instead of integrating the use of mobile technology in the learning process as some successfully have shown and by that manner also allow young people to develop a reasonable way of using mobile technology.

The latest craze seems to be “Limit screen time” and mobile phone companies even develop software that allows you to monitor your screen time. How much screen time is “good” screen time? When is the cut-off point? There is as little evidence for the right amount of screen time as there is for the right amount of daily steps to take. The 10.000 daily step rule apparently comes out of nowhere or at least not as an evidence-based measure for continued health (why not 8000 or 12.000).

I sat down and put pen to paper, actually electronic pen to tablet, and wrote down all the things I use my smartphone for and what type of things it replaces. I was surprised!

What I use my smartphone for

Mobile phones and tablets are very useful and they make a large number of things easier for us to do. What we need to learn is how to avoid the pitfalls such as data tracking at all times. However, this is not learnt through banning the use of such devices in education.

I propose you that you do this exercise yourself first and then, if you are a teacher, with your pupils. It opens the way into discussing the pros and the cons, into exploring today’s culture and, why not, you might discover some great and useful applications on the way.

I would be interested in your thought about the topic and I invite you to leave a comment below.


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