Will the proliferation of cellphones in high schools bring students together as they huddle in groups over Facebook posts and Youtube videos, or isolate them as they stare slack-jawed at screens and listen to music in their headphones?

The Richardson ISD is experimenting with a new cellphone policy which permits students to text, tweet and Facebook to their heart’s content, as long as they don’t do it during class time and as long as they aren’t actually talking on the phone.

“I think it is a great policy,” said Jake Gaba, president of the senior class. “I’ve certainly taken advantage of being able to check my phone during passing periods, and most importantly, during lunch. It really gives the administration some credit with the students because no kid thought that phones should have ever been banned in the first place.”

Senior Wildcat golf team member Tanner Dale agrees. “Teachers aren’t yelling at students every two seconds to put their phone up. Kids are using their phones in school a lot more in the halls and at lunch now because it is permitted. They are still going to use them in class and always will. It’s easy to hide it. But it is good the teachers are coming around and being more lenient.”

The new rules give parents a sigh of relief, since most of us have known for years that our kids were texting – and violating the rules – during class. In fact, some of us have been guilty ourselves of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. What mom hasn’t texted “wht time do i pick u up 2day?” or “u 4got ur lunch again!”? One day, after my son was recognized at a Forest Meadow awards ceremony, I texted “I am so very proud of you.” His teacher heard his phone buzz. She took up the test he was taking at the time, refused to let him complete it, confiscated his phone and charged us $25 to retrieve it. Nice going, mom.

With all this smartphone usage and text-speak going on during the school day, I’m wondering if kids will remember how to have real-live conversations.

Laughed Jake, “No, I do not think that kids will forget to talk to actual human beings. Maybe texting and instant messaging has affected our speech. Maybe our speech patterns and slang are different from previous generations, but that just comes with changes in society. Modern kids talk differently than kids from the 70s did, and kids from the 70s talked differently than kids from the 50s. Each generation has their own quirks. We can still learn how to speak like civilized human beings and learn when slang is appropriate and when more formal speech is appropriate.”

Said Tanner, “I think ‘text language’ is kind of a myth with high school students. That was used in junior high. We have grown out of it.”

Oh yeah. Soooo yesterday.