Should cell phones be banned at school?

By Ann Dolin | Technology

Mar 15
“Put it down.”
 
“I’m serious, put it down or it goes away.”
 
“Have you been on this the whole time you’ve been up here!?”

If any of these three statements ring true for you, then you’re probably in the same boat as every other parent out there: in a constant tug-of-war with your kids over “technology use.”

But is the technology really the problem?

Or is it just the symptom of other bad habits?

The debate continues.

On the one hand, some schools encourage smart phone and “device” usage to enhance the instructional experience.

In fact, this is the policy we have here in Fairfax County. From the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy page:

With classroom teacher approval, students may use their own devices to access the Internet and collaborate with other students. By allowing students to use their own technology on campus, we are hoping to increase access so that all students have the technology they need to succeed.

As the argument goes, we have more access to information now than ever before, enabled by the internet. Why would we deny our kids the opportunity to use those tools to their advantage during school?

On the other hand, schools across the country continue to ban phone usage altogether.

Middle schools in North Carolina and Missouri, and an entire school district in Michigan recently put the kibosh on cell phones entirely, arguing that it’s a slippery slope to distraction, texts in class, and excessive social media usage.

From the Michigan school district article:

According to Superintendent Ramont Roberts, the new policy is a means of establishing a learning environment that is conducive to student achievement.

 

“We found the phones were a distraction,” Roberts said. “We are hoping to eliminate the distraction and increase student achievement in our learning environment…”

 

“We had a very difficult time in getting students to comply,” Roberts said.

 

By not being able to strictly enforce the policy, officials ran into several problems including students viewing social media, texting and making calls during class time and recording inappropriate things in school.

 

“All the above were occurring during the instructional day, not to mention teachers constantly having to tell students to put their phones away,” Roberts said.

So what do you think?

Are cell phones the problem? Or should they be allowed under specific conditions and/or supervised use?