This pandemic has helped certain addictions to take root in us, especially in our young men and women. From Binge watching to overeating to phone usage, all are parts of the coping mechanism we have been using to survive. These addictions are the challenges we will have to address for quite a while in our homes and classrooms.
During the pandemic, because of the isolation and lack of face-to-face interaction with their peers, students relied increasingly on their phones to find connection and social interaction. These gadgets provided them with an avenue to escape from anxieties that isolation and the news of doom was creating.
Now, after coming back to school, these phones have become the antidotes for the anxieties students are feeling about being in a classroom. They spent almost two years at home on a laptop, but now they have to be in a class with lots of students, teachers and staff, and the bar of expectation is also increasing. For a child who was twelve- or fourteen-years old, isolation of two years was very painful and will have some long-term psychological effects, if not trauma. It is not only the anxiety of being in a classroom, but also the anxiety that masks create, particularly in elementary school children. And then finding that a classmate of theirs is sick and at home is an adverse psychological impression that they may or may not acknowledge but is on their minds, even if the sick student is at home because of common cold. When schools were closed, phones were the escape from the anxieties of isolation, and now that schools are open, phones are an escape from a separate set of anxieties. Instead of curbing the use of phones, students are relying on them more and more, as they can be an immediate distraction and escape.
A teacher’s job that was not easy during online teaching, has become more challenging. They struggle in setting the boundaries about phones, and how far they can go in taking away the only thing students relied on to find connection for about two years. This rough ride has not yet ended.