Should Students Carry Cell Phones at School?
The Academic Debate Ends Here
Scenario: Should students be allowed to carry cell phones in school? Parents, teachers, kids, and administrators all weigh in on the subject to devise a school policy.
What’s the Temperature?
By virtue of positions, the answer to this controversial academic question is always forked by two opposing sides. If you’re a student, it’s not surprisng that you’re in favor of the school authorities allowing students to bring their cell phones within the school premises. On the other hand, if you belong to the school administration, this policy may not be so attractive. On yet another hand (If you’re Doctor Octopus), if you hold certain opinions about this policy, chances are you were misled, or are totally ignorant.
First off, several schools and universities have already taken a stand on this issue; most of them taking the direction of cell phone bans inside the walls of the institution. Yet despite its implementation, we found- and statistics can attest to this- that most of the schools find it difficult to enforce this rule on the student body. No amount of extreme frisking can deter a disobedient student from “smuggling” his mobile companion within the sacred confines of academia.
Here is a list of schools and their Cell Phone Policies in School:
- About Cell Phone Policy - Fort Know Community Schools abide by the directive of the Federal government by allowing students to carry their cell phones at school, but only on certain conditions.
- CELL PHONE AND PDA POLICY - Marquette University outlines its Cell Phone and PDA policy on its own webpage.
- Cellphone Use Policy - The Community College of Baltimore County involves not only the students but also the school employees to put their phones into silent mode so that it won’t disrupt the learning process of the students and won’t distract the workflow of their colleagues.
- SHS Cell Phone Policy Contract - Meanwhile, Springfield High School pushes its students and their parents to sign the contract that cites the provisions on proper cell phone use within the school premises.
- Cell Phone Policy - Check out University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s cell phone use policy.
- Cell Phone Policy - Vallejo Mill Elementary does not allow students to carry cell phones at school except for two reasons.
- Cell Phone Policy - Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine's Cellphone Policy.
- Cell Phone Policy - Idaho State University specifies the places in which their students can take calls using their cell phones.
- Policy regarding handheld wireless equipment usage in class - University of Rochester indicates its general policies on cell phone usage and other handheld devices in lecture halls, classrooms, libraries, auditoriums, gymnasiums and etc.
- Cell Phones and Mobile Devices - University of Pittsburgh classifies its cell phone use regulations according to personal use, university use, and request service.
- Cell Phone Safety - Albuquerque Public Schools give some tips on how to use your cell phones safely.
- Electronic Device Guidelines - Check out Jasper High Schools electronic device guidelines here. The rules encompass use of other handheld devices like tablets and laptops.
- Cellphones and Electronics - Brier Elementary School imposes a strict ban on cell phones within the school promises.
- Cell Phone and Electronic Device Policy - Dallas Baptist University likewise mentions in their academic policies the proper usage of cell phones inside the school.
- UW-Madison Cellular Phone Policy - University of Wisconsin-Madison provides a university-funded cellular service/phone assigned to an individual employee, but imposes strict policies on its students.
Testing the Waters
Among all other stats about this dredging issue, a 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project Study says it all: 65% of cell-phone owning teens interviewed still bring their phones to school in spite of the school’s stiff implentation of a cell phone ban in classrooms, libraries, and auditoriums.
We don’t know what happened but as if by a weird twist of fate, schools now exercise leniency among cell phone use in the schools. From a previously strict standpoint, the schools were pressed to loosen their strangle among the students and drop certain provisions in their school manual. They just require the students to turn off their phones during class to avoid distractions.
But this doesn’t seem to solve the problem altogether. The Pew Study found that 43 percent of all teens who bring their handsets to school said they text in class at least ONCE a day. There goes discipline down the drain.
We wanted to know more about how serious the issue is so we did ambush interviews with some people- consisting of parents, students, teachers and school staff- and asked their opinions about this pressing issue. We summarized all the answers and grouped them according to similar views. The question was: Should kids and teens alike be allowed to carry cell phone at school?
Should kids and teens alike be allowed to carry cell phone at school?
- Letting the student carry a cell phone at school makes it easy for parents to contact them in cases of emergency, or if the folks need updating regarding their son/daughter’s whereabouts.
- If the child is in danger (provided that he or she knows how to keep his presence of mind) he or she can call his parents, reach the authorities, or a medical provider.
- For all it can bring, cell phones can be silenced and used at the proper time and place.
- Cell phones are simply great! You can reach your kids in a jiffy. Ask them questions, how they’re doing up, or just greet them.
- Students, especially younger ones, often forget to turn their cell phones off in classes. Once a phone goes off, it can distract the learners.
- It’s an eternal temptation to the students. The fact that their cell phones are just a pocket away, the pull of this device always hangs above their heads.
- Mobile phones, especially the ones which are connected to the Internet or social media sites pose a larger threat to the child’s concentration on studies.
- Phones can be used as a cheating tool during exams.
- Phones can have harmful effects on the students’ health.
Obviously, these are the general sentiments. The fact that both sides defend their causes so well makes the solution a part of the problem. Who should be the authority with the final word on these issues?
Some people raised the bar of argumentation to different levels. Let’s see their more than two cents’ worth regarding this matter:
- From the blog of The Innovative Educator, Michael Soskil gave 5 compelling reasons why schools should not be too stiff in allowing cell phone usage in classrooms:
- Preparation for Life. It’s the school’s basic function: To educate children to lead sustainably good lives for the years to come. And Soskil emphasized how cell phones have been a useful tool for mankind and its development. He asked, “How many jobs can you think of right now where a smart phone is not beneficial?” He cited certain duties which cannot be done without the aid of mobile technology. He said that students should be immersed in a learning environment which simulates the real one outside.
- Solution Despite Tight Budgets. No computers because the government can’t allocate funds for it? Why not use the student’s smartphones? This is another premise pointed out by Soskil. Cell phone technology has grown by leaps and bounds and if we don’t use the available technology in our hands, we will be left wallowing in the mosh pit.
- Mobile Devices Teach Us Something About Teaching. Soskil wondered why school officials and teachers fear that students will cheat during exams using their phones. He gave a powerful rebuttal on this contention. He said that the test questions are usually so flimsily structured that students can look up the answers when they have to consult Daddy Google or Uncle Wolfram Alpha. The tests lack the necessary rigor and cognitive bearing so students find the easy way out by relying too much on search engines. If answers can be found using these tools, then the educators are only targeting the learners’ recall skills. And this certainly does not empower the students for future and mentally harder challenges.
- School Policies Are Ambiguous. According to Soskil’s observation, teachers use iPads, laptops, and smartphones to deliver some lessons to the students. If these great tools can only be utilized by older people, this sends an unattractive message to the students. If the school manual prohibits the use of these gizmos, they might as well apply to everybody.
- Command Responsibility, Not Censorhip! One way or the other, the evils of the world will be out to get our youth. And if we don’t teach them how to battle temptation and instill in their minds a strong sense of responsibility, that means we’re only raising a generation of people who don’t think for themselves, people whose intelligence we’re clearly underestimating. He advised that we should teach the students how to exercise stewardship of the things they own. Censorship is just for dummies.
- Another blogger wrote Why Cell Phones Should Be Banned In the Classroom:
- Distraction. He/She views school fees as a financial transaction and thus, time in school should be spent exclusively for learning. The author discourages the use of cell phones in the classroom as it is a form of disrespect to the teacher or to the one who takes the floor.
- Cell Phones as Trivial Tools. Cell phones have too limited a role in the classroom for teachers to actually need them either for instruction or application of learning. And because of the small size of the screen and the highly personal nature of cell phones, teachers can’t possibly monitor the activity and measure the performance of the students who use them. Computers are more practical tools.
- Parents Can Reach the Kids Through The Main Office. If there’s an emergency, the folks can contact the school’s main office and call for their child. Most of the time, the school’s offices are open to such speedy communications.
- Cell Phones Don’t Promote Any Skills. Save from the fact that cell phones teach us how to communicate with people despite the distance, it teaches us nothing more. If truth be told, our cell phones have been a great contributor to the decline of literacy and social etiquette. As cell phones become more functional than ever, many have misused its advantages and forgot about their own bright right. As smartphones become smarter, people ironically become dumber. Phone apps now replace the basic functions of our brains. Oh! And there’s more: Cell phones have taught our youth to be materialistic and overly reliant on these gadgets.
What’s Your Stand?
I think the academic debate does not end here. If this issue ever magnifies, the only resolution is compromise on both sides. Again, the key to harmony is moderation. Balance the odds and evens and learn from these lessons.
Cell phones are ontologically good and evil. Like a weapon, it will not be harmful unless someone picks it up and use it as one. We need cell phones to help us do things, but they will never replace the function that makes humans the highest form of God’s creation.
Use your cell phones wisely!
- Some schools rethink bans on cell phones - Discusses the opinions of some schools in "Cell phone ban" of students
- Cell Phone Use and Concentration During Class - A study to determine the correlation between cell phone use in class and overall concentration and retention
- Cell Phones and Text Messaging in Schools - Identifies some instances where cell phones can be used as a national security threat
Cell Phones in the Classroom A Practical Guide for Educators - Shows that cell phones have become mini-computers; no longer simply classroom distractions,
they are now powerful classroom tools.