My phone is with me constantly. The first thing I do each morning is switch it on in case someone has sent a text during the night. I check again last thing at night. I use my phone throughout the day to ask people R U OK?, and for them to reply YES R U? Sometimes the message is even more important - WAT R U DOING? To which the reply is usually - NUFFIN - WAT ABOUT U? Sometimes the message becomes more involved - which shows how vital the text was. FONE U L8R! COOL - NO PROBS!
My husband thinks I'm mad. Why do I need to have these inane conversations, and why do my friends and colleagues feel the need to reply? Can I not go to the bathroom and leave my phone behind ? Do I have to go through all my family and friends nearly every day to check what they're doing? Can't I mind my own business? He just doesn't understand.
My concern, though, is more the language we use - or the shortage of it. I worry that one day I may go into the classroom and write a message on the board for the children's first activity: "WEN U CUM IN PLSE FNSH WRK FRM YSTDAY". They will understand it of course. Most children from age three know text-speak and can use it accurately. I'm not sure we aren't fighting a losing battle with all this literacy stuff. Who needs it if we can understand each other in a more economical way?
I've been away from school recently and have learned that my mania is OK. I am not a freak and do not need to join the TA (no, not the Territorial Army - Texters Anonymous).
My school has issued the teachers with a mobile phone for school use. Fair enough, the head did get a good deal when buying some PCs and I think the phones might have been free, but that's not the point. The corridor in our school is extremely long, with classrooms all down one side - leading from key stage 1 to key stage 2. If you need to get equipment, collect books, speak with a colleague or send a child with a message, it's a long walk.
Now you can phone on your mobile or text the person. Brilliant. The teacher doesn't have to leave the class alone, messages can be sent without interrupting lessons, and it's invaluable in an emergency. We are using phones in the course of a school day and everything is going magnificently. So now I know I am perfectly normal. My phone is an invaluable part of my life. My school has proved that this is normal behaviour.
Excuse me, I think I just heard a text message coming in...
Brenda Gunning teaches at Castle Hills primary school, Scawthorpe, Doncaster