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Should Cell Phones Be Allowed in School?

Updated on October 7, 2017
Leonard Tillerman profile image

Leonard is a former teacher and principal who has also been a writer for the past two decades. Writing and animals are his true love.

Introduction:

Should cell phones be allowed in school?

Education systems are designed to respond to the changing priorities of society on an ongoing basis. That is their role. The anomaly of this fact however is that education systems are frequently stuck in traditionalism and can be difficult and problematic to change. Many people tend to feel that if they were schooled in a certain way, then that should be the manner in which everyone should receive their education. So when these same people hear about students using cell phones in class and at school they can become quite outraged and question the quality of teaching and learning which is being provided. Nevertheless, on the other side of the issue are those who believe education needs to keep up with an evolving society or it risks becoming irrelevant. They believe that this is nowhere more evident than in the area of technology. Indeed, it is being utilized in ways which were not even considered or imagined previously. This group will point out the fact that such change requires a response. Therein lies the two groups who become destined for squabbles and conflict. One of the most significant controversies which has emerged between them has to do with cell phones. More specifically…should cell phones be allowed in school?

Yes! Cell Phones Should Be Allowed in School:

Student safety is a key reason why cell phones should be allowed at school.
Student safety is a key reason why cell phones should be allowed at school.

1. Student Safety:

Perhaps the most common argument which is made in favor of students having cell phones in school is their actual safety. It is argued that they require cell phones in order to keep in contact with their parents in case of emergencies. Traditionalists will scoff at such a point and quickly point out the fact that kids and parents did just fine for ages without them. True…but the world is a much different place today. Society has evolved to the point where in most families, both parents are working and their occupations typically take them a far distance from home. This means that there isn’t anyone close by the school to check in on the child, and they are often walking home on their own. Parents feel more secure when their children call to tell them that they have safely arrived home from school. Cell phones will provide a sense of security and safety for students and parents alike. That alone is a key reason why cell phones should be allowed in school.

Cell phones provide instructional relevancy and should be allowed in school.
Cell phones provide instructional relevancy and should be allowed in school.

2. Instructional Relevancy:

Cell phones and changing technology are here to stay. Nobody can really argue that point. Technology is becoming much more advanced each and every day and cell phones have become integral educational tools which should be utilized. They can allow students to access the Internet and key applications such as planners and list builders. Cell phones can also be an excellent tool which can be used to provide a differentiated instructional approach. Clearly all students do not learn the same way. By allowing them to use cell phones at school, they will be able to access the learning tools such as speech to text programs which can enhance their educational experience and put everyone on an equal footing.

Tight and strict educational budgets mean students bringing their own cell phones to school is a creative cost-cutting idea.
Tight and strict educational budgets mean students bringing their own cell phones to school is a creative cost-cutting idea.

3. Money and Educational Funding:

In most developed nations education is subject to continual cost cutting and tight budgets. In such an environment local school boards and districts will have a hard time keeping up with the financial demands which constantly changing technology brings. Technology is expensive! Allowing students to bring their own cell phone or device to school is a creative and concrete solution to this fiscal problem. Many districts do encourage this already and it is known as B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device). It would save an incredible amount of money for educational districts as the school would not have to provide the expensive devices for students. In such a situation everyone wins.

Cell phone apps can be helpful to a student's mental health.  They are a great reason that cell phones should be allowed in school.
Cell phone apps can be helpful to a student's mental health. They are a great reason that cell phones should be allowed in school.

4. Phone Apps Designed For Mental Health:

Mental health has traditionally been a subject which people do not talk about. This is due in large part to the existence of an overwhelming societal stigma. Anyone with mental health concerns had to hide them, or in many cases were simply locked away. Fortunately things have begun to change for the better. Mental health and how to develop coping strategies to deal with afflictions such as anxiety or depression are now part of the educational curriculum. Students of all ages frequently have to manage a high level of stress and anxiety. Educators are now able to help them discover coping strategies which will lead to better resiliency and overall improved mental health. One of the most important tools which is utilized to do so is the cell phone. There are many cell phone apps such as Code Blue, Breathe2Relax and Talkspace which are designed to be used as coping tools for students. Indubitably, this is a key reason why cell phones should be allowed at school.

Technology and cell phones are the way of the future in education.  A great reason why cell phones should be allowed in school.
Technology and cell phones are the way of the future in education. A great reason why cell phones should be allowed in school.

5. Preparing For The Future:

There can be very little doubt that technology, and cell phones in particular, are not going away anytime soon! Instead of spending unnecessary efforts figuring out ways to prevent students from bringing them to school, educators should embrace them and show students how to use them properly. These are real skills which our students will require in the next century and for the forseeable future. If they are not provided with these skills they will surely be left behind. This is another key reason why cell phones should be allowed in school.

No!  Cell phones should not be allowed in school.
No! Cell phones should not be allowed in school.

NO! CELL PHONES SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED IN SCHOOL!

Poor behavior and distractability are reasons cell phones should not be allowed in school.
Poor behavior and distractability are reasons cell phones should not be allowed in school.

1. Behavior and Classroom Management

Allowing students to utilize their cell phones at school will create a number of significant classroom management issues. As if teachers do not already have enough on their hands! Cell phone use could lead to such poor behavior as cheating on tests, taking inappropriate photographs and even cyberbullying other students right within the classroom. This could all be happening when students should actually be focused on the lesson at hand. Poor behavior and distractability are definitely powerful reasons why cell phones should not be allowed at school.

Equity and fairness are reasons cell phones should not be allowed in school.
Equity and fairness are reasons cell phones should not be allowed in school.

2. Fairness and Equity:

It is very important to consider equity of opportunity when considering whether students should be allowed to use cell phones at school. Due to their significant expense not all families can afford to provide their child with a cell phone. What about them? This in turn will create a very inequitable system. We simply cannot ignore socioeconomic reasons when considering this hotly debated issue.

Cell phone use can lead to physical and mental health problems.
Cell phone use can lead to physical and mental health problems.

3. Student Physical and Mental Health:

For a long time the effect of cell phones on our health has largely been an unknown factor. However, a number of new studies have been emerging which place this question at the forefront. In fact, the World Health Organization has emphatically stated that cell phones are quite possibly ‘carcinogenic to humans.” When you combine this with other physical health impacts such as damage to eyesight and hearing, it becomes quite significant. Also, cell phone use can lead to a number of mental health problems as well. In a University study conducted in Shahrekord, Iran it was shown that cell phone addiction can contribute to social and psychological problems such as anxiety and depression. Considering all of the above…should we really be encouraging usage in our schools?

Cell phones in school are likely going to be lost or stolen.  A great reason why cell phones should not be allowed in school.
Cell phones in school are likely going to be lost or stolen. A great reason why cell phones should not be allowed in school.

4. Theft Potential:

It has been shown how the significant expense of cellphones creates a real problem for parents. Being able to provide their child with a cell phone so they can have the same opportunity as other students becomes quite a hardship. This problem is even further compounded by the likelihood of the cell phone being lost or stolen. Cell phones are an attractive target for theft and the vast majority of schools explicitly state that they will not replace any stolen or lost equipment. Use it at your own risk!

Conclusion:

Both sides to this issue have a solid and powerful line of reasoning. There are clear advantages and disadvantages which exist. However, this does not mean the issue of whether students should be allowed to use cellphones at school should simply be avoided and ignored because it is too complicated. All sides to the debate should be carefully considered which will in turn allow for a meticulous plan of action to be pursued. Instead of merely putting our collective heads in the sand, solutions to the problems must be considered and addressed. For instance, if equity is a concern, how then can the system as a whole support those who are at a socioeconomic disadvantage? By being solution based we may be able to offer our students and children the best possible opportunities and education system which they truly deserve.

Resources:

  1. Do Smartphones have a place in classrooms. By Paul Barnwell.
  2. Smartphones in the classroom: A teacher’s dream or nightmare?
  3. 16 seriously damaging side effects of your smartphone addiction. By Jayne Leonard.
  4. Top 10 mental Health Apps. Psychiatryadvisor.com. Hanna Dellabella

Give Your Opinion!

Should Cell Phones Be Allowed In School?

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    • Al Greenbaum profile image

      Al Greenbaum 3 weeks ago from Europe

      Students can have them in school but they can't use them during class. If they want to make a call at recess or lunchtime, no problem. During lessons, they are a distraction. Kids need to concentrate on their studies, not on their phones.

    • profile image

      TW Iain 3 weeks ago

      When my son started high school last year, he was told to bring in a scientific calculator and a dictionary every day. My first thought was 'I have those things with me every day, as apps on my phone'. Yes, there are serious issues with students having these devices in school, but there is so much potential in using these tools to enhance their education

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

      This is a fairly- -balanced approach to the topic of cell phones. Perhaps there should be multi-level discussions with a view of authorizing use and setting boundaries.