Apart from the concern that many job functions requiring human interaction may be replaced by emerging technologies, there is also unease about social media being a means of destroying interpersonal relationships.

Even as a teacher who preaches the advantages of e-learning, this is still a cause for worry. It may seem self-contradictory, right? Some of my students think so. But here is the truth:

Technology has its uses. Studying and exploring the world is one, but establishing meaningful bonds, friendships, and long-lasting relationships for academic success is not. Moreover, to get the most out of a physical class, you must keep out your phone!

In an on-site classroom setting, you have the privilege to connect with the instructor through spoken and unspoken paralinguistic features—gestures, tone, pitch, and eye movements, not to mention that you need to be able to maximize your time with likeminded students, some of whom could be better than you in specific topics and could be of great help in your path to achieving success. What is even the point of opting for face-to-face group training when you are not looking to share ideas and improve yourself with the aid of others?  

Tapping through your phone or swiping through content and messages denies you these opportunities. The excuse of “I can still hear” or “the lesson is in the voice” does not suffice at all; otherwise, you should do just fine in an online class, which, however, demands the shutting out of distractions, still. Read about the benefits of online learning here: 5 Outstanding Benefits Of Pre-Designed E-Learning That You Have Never Been Told – Chigozie Nwokoji

Also, do you know the message you unconsciously pass across when someone is speaking to you and you are on your phone?

Do you have any idea the sheer disrespect of that?

That attitude says “Whatever you are talking about is not so important right now.” But much worse is the fact that you are doing yourself a greater disservice when it is in a classroom you PAID MONEY to be in.

Well, while we can never exhaust how stupendously helpful social media is to our lives, it is not REAL LIFE itself. Human connection is what it means to live in a community with other humans! AND…Depression, anxiety, and ADHD are mental hazards you might be toiling with when you get stuck using your phones to replace other people in your lives, especially on occasions when the use of the phone is UNNECESSARY.

QUICK STORY: in my experience as a classroom instructor I have often noticed that once I leave the class, students, mostly teens (Gen Zs), are quick to jump back to their phones swiping their social media pages. It is almost as though they can’t wait to get to their phones every other time.

Let’s even take a look at some of the excuses you might want to give for using your phones in class and weigh their validity…

1. Social media is an interesting space for mental relief, information, and interconnectivity.

From one catchy blog headline to the other or one funny, informative skit to the other on TikTok or Instagram, it is easy to become addicted. Of course, these may come in handy sometimes to ease stress—juicy pieces of information and scenes of jovial banters, yeah? A chuckle or smile every once in a while, during stiff moments, could be so relieving. However, it is just as important to think of the intermittent cringes and frowns that come with consuming saddening or terrifying content on social media. What about having to consume a lot of these just within a few minutes of sitting down or even standing? You are bombarding your mind with a lot to process at a time.

You probably need to be reminded that the influencers, bloggers, and content creators you spend time watching online are simply advancing their careers and making some cool cash for themselves in the process. Perhaps you should ask: what am I then doing for MYSELF by watching and scrolling through a lot of their content within a short time and in class? Sheer entertainment? And shouldn’t different spaces and time be allocated for different purposes?

Except you intend to become a content creator, influencer, or actor someday, and you are picking a few cues from them and improving your skills in those areas, just know: YOU ARE WASTING A LOT OF YOUR VALUABLE TIME.

2. Social media helps to avoid harmful interactions

Yes, some conversations are too risky to get involved in; some people are mad in disguise and there is the tendency to be caught up in their mess. In Nigeria at the moment, for instance, people move around with pent-up aggression over personal struggles, economic depression, and other societal ills. Therefore, looking through your smartphone is one of the easiest ways to avoid awkward encounters in class.

But hey, sometimes, these fears do not exist in the magnitude we have them in our heads. So, what if you can re-direct the topic and scope of the conversation to suit your goal for the class? Or just to exchange real amusement and chatter, EYE-TO-EYE. 

Most of all, you should be discerning. Read the room! What if someone in class is trying to get your attention just so you could take practice together? What if someone is waiting for you to make the move so he or she can be of help or learn a bit from you, and during that process, you get to internalize what you already know?

Wait, take a minute to compare both pictures above. 

Can you feel the abject aura of detachment in the latter as opposed to the camaraderie and charming ambiance of the former?


3. Do you have social anxiety? 

If so, I hope you are aware that constantly logging onto social media with your phone will only worsen the situation.

"You may experience symptoms of social anxiety if you feel you don't "live up" to the ideals on your feed," says Charna Cassell, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Oakland, California.

Does Social Media Worsen Social Anxiety Symptoms? | Psych Central

"If you already live with social anxiety disorder, seeing the successes of others may also have an impact." According to a 2018 study, social media use may cause FOMO (fear of missing out). Think of how much of this is true when you are not working to advance your career at the same time as you’re experiencing someone else live out his/her aspirations, dreams, and career goals.

Now, this is the deal:

You signed up for a class, yeah?

And that class could be beneficial to your life goal, yeah?

So, except when it is important during the class that you use your device—perhaps to read or work with shared soft copy study materials— KEEP YOUR PHONE AWAY WHILE IN CLASS!

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