I had an epiphany in one of my Comp classes today. One of my students was in the back of the room with his head laying on one arm and his cell phone clutched in his free hand. It almost looked like he was asleep except that occasionally he would enter some text message into his phone. As I was watching him (there are some battles that are just getting to hard to fight and keeping students from texting in class is one of them), I came to the realization that the cell phone is a pacifier for many of the students.
For many of them, the cell phone is apparently a source of comfort and security. They have to constantly hold it in their hands and they check it every five or ten minutes to see if some "important" message has come in like what their friends are doing in their other classes. They keep it one their person so that they are never without it and they can never seem to be able to not answer it when it rings (unless it is their parents). They answer it in class, in the bathroom, in the locker room at the Y. They also text in some of the most unusal places: as they eat with their friends, watch movies, and walk up or down stairs.
I believe that many of them might actually begin to cry and pout if their phone was ever taken away. I wonder how they would respond if I were to share my epiphany.