DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY SISTER AND I DISAGREE ON THIS ISSUE. WE WERE BOTH TAUGHT TO READ MAPS WHEN WE TOOK A FAMILY CAR TRIP. MY SISTER SAYS TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND WE CAN RELY ON THE MAPS ON OUR PHONES. I THINK THAT MAP READING SKILLS ARE VALUABLE AND SCHOOLS SHOULD CONTINUE TO TEACH THEM. WHAT DO YOU THINK? Chrissy, Sebastapol
Dear Chrissy: Good Question! There’s no doubt that a lot of things we used to do by hand have migrated to the phone- for example, long division and address books. That said, map reading is something that I would not want to entirely depend on electronically, although Digital Natives might disagree. Maps are, by definition, representations of the outside world, and we should always consider their distortions or biases (remember the flat map?). Second, the maps on our phone are so small so we literally don’t see “the big picture.” You asked whether that skill should be taught in schools- only if they still teach geography!!
DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: MY TWO CHILDREN TAKE THE SCHOOL BUS EVERY MORNING AND AFTERNOON. I HAVE HEARD FROM ANOTHER PARENT THAT THE KIDS ARE USING THEIR PHONES ON THE BUS TO WATCH VIDEOS OR GOSSIP. DO YOU THINK THAT THIS SHOULD BE ALLOWED? Kira, Cambridge
Dear Kira: School bus travel has always seemed like the “Wild Wild West” but smartphones on kids’ buses present yet another contemporary issue. Some school districts, and even an entire country (France) ban phones during school hours, but what should be done after-hours? Perhaps bus drivers like this because the kids are less rambunctious and loud. I would try to find out if the information from your friend is true. Then, limiting your kids’ phones to only Wifi (assuming the bus is not Wifi enabled) and using a tracking app, similar to the one on iOS12 might be first steps. Other parents? Join in!
DEAR MS. SMARTPHONE: YOU MENTIONED A FEW WEEKS BACK THAT YOU WOULD FOLLOW UP ON USING SMARTPHONES TO GET TO WORK… WHAT GIVES? Rusty, Palo Alto
Dear Rusty: Glad that you keep me on my toes, and I elevated your earlier post (see below). Totally get that you want to use pooled rideshare, but it is impractical because you cannot estimate the arrival time. Uber and Lyft may have failed here, but your smartphone may come through after all!
Waze developed a carpool app that will be familiar to rideshare users…it lists the ETA, names, star-ratings, and other standard information. Waze is now doing a nationwide rollout of the app and subsidizing new riders. Whether you are the driver or the passenger, see if this smartphone app will get you moving.