By Peter Cagno
It’s no surprise that school districts nationwide are banning the use of mobile communication between high school educators and students, as more and more reports of inappropriate relationships spurred from unsupervised texting and social media messaging come to light. Research suggests, however, that limiting such forms of communication can hinder very important benefits for high school athletic programs.
In collaboration with Scott Hamm, director of online education at Hardin-Simmons University, whose research examines the ways that technological social tools, such as texting, affect learning, we assess ways that two-way mobile communication can be beneficial for coaches and athletes alike.
Communicating Time-Sensitive Information
There are many intangibles in the world of sports. The weather could shift dramatically and postpone a game, an opposing coach could cancel, or their bus could be running late. All of this time-sensitive information is valuable to the athletes competing in the sporting events. Coaches need to be able to quickly and effectively alert their athletes remotely with up-to-date information.
Email correspondence is far too slow for high school students who hardly check their inboxes. According to Pew Research Center’s research on “Teens, Smartphones & Texting,” 63% of the studied teens said they use texting daily to communicate, while only 6% exchanged emails daily. Mobile messaging not only makes coaches’ responsibilities easier, but for teens, Hamm adds that “you have access to their attention anywhere, anytime.”
Reinforcing Lessons While Outside of Practice
Just like in academics, coaches require athletes to work outside of practice to better hone their skills. When it comes to learning lessons, Hamm says students will “engage only when they are acting to put themselves into that position.” On the practice field, a coach can motivate his or her players to run faster by timing them. Now with two-way mobile communication, athletes can be responsive wherever while off practice. Coaches can send personalized mobile messages to athletes of drills they should work on prior to coming to practice the next day. With such ease of communication mobile communication has become an extension of practice.
Coaches utilizing texting to benefit a team even goes beyond the field and into the classroom. A study was conducted at University of Memphis where members of an athletic team were considered high-risk for academic failure due to excessive tardiness and absences. The student-athletes were asked to text their coaches when standing outside of the classroom door to confirm attendance. After this implementation, all athlete participants attended and arrived on time for each class going forward. The data from the experiment suggests that mobile messaging is a cost-effective and useful tool for monitoring and improving class attendance.
Growing Valuable Relationships
While mobile communication provides convenience and immediacy, Hamm believes that a bigger benefit is the accompanying sociological aspect. “Texting is the closest to their hearts in terms of communication,” Hamm says. When athletes receive a text from their coach, it begins to move the conversation out of the strata of school, and it goes into what is important to them. It makes them feel important and that their coach cares enough about their personal being because they reached out and engaged with them on their own personal time away from the field.
The times are changing and with each passing day it seems like there is new software or a new application that makes one tiny part of our day that much easier. That’s the world we live in today—a digital age where technology has taken precedent over obsolete traditions. For teens, the ability to send a message in the blink of an eye has become normality and is the form of communication they rely on. Prohibiting this communication channel with their coaches will also limit important relationships, interactions, and life skills.
Peter Cagno is a Content Marketing Specialist at InteractWith (https://interactwith.com/schools).
InteractWith works with athletic directors to enable coaches and athletes to safely continue the benefits of mobile communication through their app, without sharing phone numbers. InteractWith’s Enterprise solution gives athletic directors administrative oversight and instant transparency over the communication to limit and provide immediate resolutions to inappropriate exchanges or risky situations.
Visit https://interactwith.com/schools to learn more or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.