Do cellphones have a place in Schools?

Another great debate! Both the agree team Echo, Lovepreet & Amanpreet and the disagree team Leona, Reid & Bret made solid arguments for why cellphones should or should not be banned in schools! Here’s a few of the Key Points!

Agree

Cellphones are addictive and distracting

Cellphones are currently being banned in many places around the world

Nomophobia (fear of being away from your phone)

Cellphones can be used for cheating

Cellphones are a target of theft

Disagree

Cellphones can increase student engagement 

Cellphones can increase accessibility 

Cellphones can increase student/device ratio

Cellphone Features/Apps can be useful in the classroom (calculator/alarms/calendar)

Cellphones can allow for new ways of learning (Virtual Reality)


To preface, I am not a classroom teacher. I have been a learning resource teacher for 15 years and the past year a VP/LRT. Maybe I would feel more strongly about banning cellphones if I was a classroom teacher dealing with them day in and out. While I don’t think cellphones should be banned; I also don’t think students should have all day access to them. I think there can be a happy medium, with limited access. The distractions cellphones cause it a big concern for me. Even as an adult I struggle with being distracted by my cell phone. In Breanna Carels article “Changing our Mindset in Regards to Cell Phones in the Classroom” she noted that adolescents are spending approximately 8 hours a day on devices with access to media. That’s a lot of screen time and distraction!  Another scary stat was the closer the proximity of a cellphone to a student, the poorer their cognitive functioning was. Again pretty concerning. On the flip side I have seen cellphones increase student engagement, and accessibility as well as increase the ratio of devices. At my current school we do not have 1:1 access and cellphones are often used so all students have a device.

Limited Access with Rules & Expectations

The adults who work with these students need to change their mindset on cellphones, and look at ways to incorporate these phones in class, rather than banning them. 

Changing our Mindset in Regards to Cellphones in the Classroom – Breanna Carels

I thought Breanna Carel’s article aligned well with my own beliefs. She believes teachers should find ways to incorporate cell phones but also stresses the importance of policies & expectations. Teachers should have clear rules and policies set at the start of the school year. A suggestion from the article that I liked was involving students in the creation of the policies and expectations. Has anyone tried this?

Within my current school our students have limited access. One middle years classroom has a cell phone hotel and the other classroom is allowed cellphones at their desk (off) and they are only to have them on when the teacher has given them permission. Both seem to work pretty well. We also do not allow cellphones out with students at recess for a number of reasons. We want to encourage our students to be active and or socializing during recess. Students are more likely to make poor choices (taking videos/inappropriate messages) during unstructured times. Yes there are always going to be students who make poor choices. As a school we have a two strike rule and then the admin hold on to the cell phone and students pick them up when they are leaving for the day. We also have one repeat offender who checks his phone in every am at the office and picks it up when he leaves.

Cellphone Hotels & Contracts

Teaching students to be good digital citizens is important with all forms of technology, cell phones included. I think with education and clear expectations cellphones can be an effective tool in the classroom.

Final Thoughts/Questions

At what ages are your students coming to school with cell phones? – Grade 5/6 seems to be the age at my school.

Does your school have a school wide cell phone policy or is it classroom teacher drive? – Ours is teacher driven but I wonder if it would be more beneficial to have a school wide policy.

Tracy

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