Should cell phones be allowed in school? As cell phones have developed, the role of them in the classroom have become increasingly blurred. Many teachers stand firmly by the fact that they disrupt the classroom and should be banned. Other teachers rely on them as a way to further engagement in the class. Let’s discuss both sides of the argument and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each side.
Why They Should Be Allowed
Many teachers claim that having cell phones (and technology as a whole) in the classroom opens up the door to more engagement from the students. Certain activities can utilizes phone-based apps to supplement material being taught in the lesson. Many students are proficient with their devices so using them in the classroom can boost student morale. There’s a bunch of apps that incorporate review games too. Apps like Kahoot and Quizlet are great for getting your students engaged and they can even collaborate on study decks together!
Don’t Fight Them, Join Them
Cell phones are an inevitability in school. This is especially true as students get older and enter high school. Instead of adopting anti-phone policies, schools could instead embrace cell phones and use them to their benefits. Cell phones are incredibly powerful tools. They can be a graphing calculator, a dictionary, an encyclopedia, and so much more. Schools should spend time to educate students on proper use of these tools. This prepares them for the world after school where careers are more likely to encourage cell phone use as a tool.
Great For Emergency Situations
When students are able to use their cell phones at school, they’re able to use them in case of emergencies. Whether the student isn’t feeling well, intense weather is coming, or something else emergency related, students are better able to communicate with their families. This eliminates the risk of confusion during a time of crisis.
Why They Shouldn’t Be Allowed
Prone to Distractions
The most popular reason for the question of should cell phones be allowed in school is the distractions they cause. Cell phones can be distracting for a number of reasons:
- Social Media Use
These are all ways that cell phones can be abused during class time. The presence of them can also affect students around the user with the phone. Many teachers ban phones from their classroom for this reason.
Risk of Cheating
Cell phones make it immensely easier for a student to cheat. Whether it’s on a lesson worksheet or a test, students are able to hide their phones in their lap and look up answers. With the advent of AI, this risk has extended into writing essays. Many students can generate essays and short answer responses instead of writing them by themselves. Students can also become dependent on their phone instead of learning. This creates a bad habit that’s harder to break as they get older. (especially in college)
Our school has gone through both phases of allowing technology in the classroom and then also removing it. We’ve found that when removing free-time access to technology, (laptops, phones, tablets, etc.) students are more likely to socialize with one another. Since our school is a one-to-one school, socialization is very important as students don’t get the opportunity to socialize with peers in their core subjects. Removing the social barrier that technology created actually improved communication among our students and new friend groups even started to form. Now don’t get me wrong, technology is still an important part of our school. We didn’t get rid of our computer lab or even laptops. Instead, we made it so that students were restricted to using these devices until the teacher approved so.
Ultimately the decision comes down to the school and student body. Each school is different so there isn’t a “one and done” solution to this problem. I’d say it’s important for schools to teach digital literacy and embrace the importance of technology without allowing it to diminish the educational experience. Easier said than done, but I believe there is a fine balance that schools can find between both sides here. A solution that incorporates technology without the negative risks.