A couple of years ago, I acquired an Android phone -- what I call a semi-smart phone -- just because I sometimes found it difficult to check messages while traveling. My old phone had just enough Internet capability to frustrate me. The new phone was adequate for "occasionally" checking in.
I've not gotten to the point of the fellow in this scene from The New Yorker, but I can certainly empathize with him -- and with my students who cannot resist furtively (they think) checking messages during class. Connections to the outside have forever altered the nature of connections on the inside.
As I have explained in Dose of Distraction -- with the help of another cartoonist -- the brain's craving for stimulation threatens both focused learning and good manners. As someone who now has the world at my Android fingertips, I understand the challenge that phones -- especially the smart and semi-smart kinds -- pose for students. Of course, empathy and acceptance are not the same thing; these are challenges I expect students to resist.
And of course texting is not the only challenging distraction ...