A Teacher’s Take On Students’ Smartphone Gaming Addiction
It’s more serious than we think it is.
The pandemic has caused and is still causing havoc all around the globe. As a teacher of English at a privately run primary school in Poland, I am able to notice another serious issue that COVID-19 has created among school students. The long hibernation period away from schools has made students get hopelessly addicted to their smartphones like never before.
Ever since my school opened its gates to students this September, there have been issues with students and their smartphones. Despite enforcing rules not to bring phones into the classroom, students don’t seem to take it seriously. I teach at a private school, so it’s business and so strict rules and detentions don’t exist.
Their phones are in their pockets and the moment the period gets over, they start playing games until the next teacher gets in. They even forget to use the bathroom or eat snacks during their break. Every time I get into a class, I see students playing games on their phones, and it takes me a good five minutes to bring them back to reality.
The naughty students in every class take such pleasure in talking about games and their progress and achievements even during the lesson time in front of me. This is not happening only in my school. It’s a prevalent situation across the country. It’s worse in private schools.
There’s much more than games on a smartphone. There are apps that target girls and boys specifically. There are also educational games that students can use to learn maths and English, for example. But they find it less exciting than Minecraft or Fortnite. I find that boys are more addicted to gaming than girls. But girls have other apps for their taste and preference. My colleague recently caught two boys in class 6 watching porn in the classroom. This is just outright devastating.
I am deeply concerned about the situation and don’t seem to have any control over it. They do all of this at school and then go home only to play video games on their video game consoles. Now that’s a different world altogether.
Millennial parents tend to give a lot to their kids. It’s good. Not that I am complaining here. But when it comes to tech gadgets and gaming products, I think they are doing much more harm than good to their kids.
As a consequence, many kids are becoming restless, irritable, and impatient about sitting in class and listening to the teacher, and following instructions. I am seeing an increase in ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, and other learning and behavioral disabilities in kids in recent years.
How could students sit in the class? Their brains have become addicted to the fast-moving, high-graphical images that they constantly see in the games they play for about 3–4 hours every day. And longer on weekends and bank holidays. Their brains’ dopamine reward pathway is always hyperstimulated when they are playing games and when they are not, they get withdrawal effects similar to using recreational drugs.
Students are unable to sit in the class and listen to the teacher, follow instructions, do activities in books, learn new things patiently, and they are also frequently fatigued. A big part of the reason is that their brains are not cooperating with them when they are at school away from their game consoles and phones. When they can’t play games, their brains cry out for help and the kids freak out. This is sad.
Books don’t have stimulating graphics as there are in the games they play. So, naturally, they are bored and find everything that happens in the classroom to be extremely dissatisfying and worthless.
In my opinion, the game developers and the game app developers are clearly the winners here for creating such a huge revolution that has gotten kids get addicted way beyond what’s needed and safe. I mean, game developers have brilliant brains. I am not denying that. But what their products are doing to GenZ kids is unimaginably sad and worrying.
The future of students and teachers looks gloomy in my eyes. Students have also become more aggressive than before. They know so much about the world, both good and bad, that they are struggling to find balance and calmness in their attitude and behavior.
Parents are struggling a lot as well. They want their kids to live happily, so they provide them with everything that’s good, fancy, and expensive. They do so also owing to peer pressure. They are losing control over their kids’ behavior even when their kids are only 9 or 10. I am not talking about teens. That’s a different story for another time.
In the last few months, I must have met at least a dozen parents to talk about their kids’ classroom manners and smartphone usage. A few parents shed tears and sobbed, unable to take any action. They said they were doing everything in their power to control the situation. But there they were sitting with me in my room and crying. Sad. Very sad.
So, what could be done? I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe I should not worry and just do my job and get paid and live my life. There are so many things in this world over which we don’t have any control. I am aware of it. But still, this addiction problem in kids makes me wonder what the future is going to look like for schools, students, teachers, and parents. Time will tell. Until then, I’ll keep hoping for something extraordinary to happen to reverse the situation, at least to some extent.
Thanks for reading.