It can be discouraging for instructors who, after taking the time to prepare a lesson plan, find their students texting rather than taking notes in class. Educators across all disciplines and state lines are faced with the dilemma of how to respond. Is it a sign of disrespect or simply the burgeoning of a new generational divide?
A closer look at the numbers shows that the issue isn’t limited to a few problem students. A study conducted by Barney McCoy of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that of the 777 students surveyed, more than 80% admitted to using their phone for non-academic related reasons during class. Undergraduates were the heaviest users, reaching for their phones an average of 11 times per school day, while graduate students came in at an average of 4 uses. Business and Professional Communication Quarterly Editor Melinda Knight discusses this issue in her editorial entitled “What to Do About Texting?”
Right before the first required oral presentation in this class, I asked everyone once again to turn phones off and give full attention to each speaker. As I was saying this, one student, whom I had previously asked to stop texting on several occasions, continued to text away until I stopped speaking all together. Usually, this kind of dramatic action will help make everyone aware of the problem, yet for the rest of the semester I had only limited success in convincing students that texting during class and especially when others were giving presentations was not professional behavior. Worse yet, I continually had to answer the same questions from students who did not hear what we had previously discussed because of texting. Perhaps the apparent lack of respect for everyone, instructor and students, is what has bothered me the most about this problem.
Social marketing is become a major part of our day-to-day life. Let’s face it — you’re currently reading a blog with that in mind! Health researchers have long been seeking ways to use social marketing to reach out to their communities and better aid the public and Dr. Jessica Fits Willoughby may have done just that. Dr. Willoughby developed a social marketing campaign to promote a program that allows teens to use texting to contact trained health educators with questions about sexual health. Her published findings, “Everyone has question: Developing a Social Marketing Campaign Promoting a Sexual Health Text Message Service” can be found in Social Marketing Quarterly.
Text message services that provide sexual health information are increasingly popular, but often they are not promoted. This article describes the development of a social marketing campaign promoting a state-based sexual health text message service that allows teens to text a sexual health question directly to a trained health educator. Preproduction and production research using in-depth interviews and focus groups (n = 35) conducted in the southeastern United States provided information on perceived benefits and barriers and teens’ perceptions. Teens were interested in the service and wanted to see relevant settings and relatable teens in advertisements. Teens said that the promotional messages needed to include clear instructions on how to use such a service, as teens were only somewhat familiar with the process of using such a system. Implications for promotion of similar services are discussed.