Small but powerful media players

In high schools and middle schools, the almost bumble bee sized iPods or other portable media players are the order of the day. In the hallways, during breaks, on the way to school and back on the school bus, whenever there might be a substitute teacher, and whenever there might be a few spare minutes to catch some tunes. In an average high school, it would appear that this is the case with about five in twenty-five students, which represents about 20% of the total school population.

While electronic devices such as iPods, texting, headphones are not allowed in school, they are usually tolerated in most public schools (in the city in which I am employed, a major city on the East Coast). Most teachers draw the line in the classroom during class, but many principals are tolerant of music on breaks. Some teachers are tolerant of headsets after testing, or after the student’s work is complete.

Do Teens Really Concentrate Better with the Music Playing?

Why does one grade school/middle school principal say that there is a war on iPods, cell phones and text messaging in her school – the same type of war as the “war on drugs”? “We know we will never completely win the war, but it’s the same as the war on drugs,” were her words, “we’ll keep fighting.” Why the fight? It is distracting to the students and to the teachers, who may find themselves wrangling with students with regard to their use of the headsets during class.

Teens often state in class, “I concentrate better when I’m listening to music.” Fact or fallacy? There is some truth to the statement in that, in a disruptive classroom setting where there is a lot of noise or disorder, the teen zones out and finds his solitude by turning on the headset. Then he can blank out the disorder around him and concentrate better on his work. That is the reasoning from one high school student as he completed his assignment listening to rap and R & B. There is a certain truth to that thinking.

Electronic Devices At School
On the other hand, while it is easy to do more or less repetitive school work while listening to music, it can be difficult to think meaningfully and deeply while listening to what is usually, powerful songs of strong emotion, anger, or just plain catchy tunes. In all likelihood, a liberal policy in a school with iPods and the like results in a lower quality of education for the students whose parents and teachers/principals allow them to indulge.

Music in the Mind Still Plays After the Electric is Powered Off

Additionally, the music that a teen listens to in his off moments continues in his head, as we all know, after the electricity is turned off, like a fan that can take a while to wind down. The music is still powerful in his or her mind.

This means that some teens never really get down time for their brain. This can mean overload, and it is likely that for some teens – both male and female – the increase in ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health disorders might have some connection with the amount of time and intensity of the music the child or teen listens to. The constant powerful cerebral stimulation through music is more than the brain can handle for some, something that was not available to previous generations.

Parents, educators, and administrators of schools should consider carefully whether they are serving the child or teen’s best long-term interest by allowing him to indulge in iPod-type devices during the school day.

iPod is a trademark of Apple, and is used in this article as a generic term for a portable media/music player.

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