Cellphones inside the school environment has become a huge controversy in recent years on whether they should be allowed or banned. Many schools have made changes in their rules to provide more freedom for students to use their cellphones in unstructured time such as the Takoma Park Middle School in Maryland, while others have made changes to reverse the rule in order to limit distractions in class like Seymour High School in Connecticut. In actuality, how distracting and harmful are phones in the learning environment for students ?
An article by Donna St. George of The Washington Post dives into the many arguments, rationales, and opinions by students, schools, and parents on the ideas of cell phones being used in school. Firstly, with the idea of banning cell phones many parents argued that cell phones will cause a huge distraction inside the classroom, with one parent quoted in the article as saying, “His child’s school banning fidget spinners and Pokemon cards. Why allow cell phones ?”. This point comes up often with parents and guardians arguing that with the many restrictions that schools have, cell phones should be a top priority on that list of restrictions.
Another argument that the parents make is that the electronics and technology suck their children in and keep them occupied on things that aren’t as important. Angie Melton, who is a mother of four children, explains in St. George’s Washington Post article, “ They get in their virtual worlds, and I want them in the real world.” The drawbacks of cell phones in the school environment is a huge distraction from what they need to know and parents are afraid it will hinder their ability in school. However, there are implications to cell phones inside the school environment that oppose what many parents worry about. Some of these implications that come with cell phone use inside schools is the incorporation of cell phones into educational lessons with Liz Kolb, who is a lecturer and research associate at the University of Michigan quoted in St. George’s article, states,“ There are teachers who have found that having the cellphone is like having a computer in your pocket, so it’s a way to have another learning tool at the disposal of the children that isn’t necessarily costing the district more money.”
At Achievement First, students are unable to carry and use their cell phones during any hours of the school day. This led me to interview a few people from teachers to attending students to see their opinions on the standing rule that is in place. According to an anonymous junior who attends Achievement First, they claim that, “So the phone policy is broken because not everyone enforces and if there is an emergency it leaves us without any way to contact anyone,” which gives a point that cell phones are a way of communication in hectic and important times and with a policy that denies the use of cell phones there can be emergencies that can’t be communicated to concerned parents because cell phones aren’t allowed in the environment. Also the student states that the cell phone policy is loosely enforced so there is inconsistency in the consequences that students receive. Next Teacher Santos, an 11th Grade US History teacher at AF Hartford High, was asked for their input on the cell phone policy and they were quoted saying that, “I’m excited to see the technological benefits that cell phones bring to school, but I’m worried that it will bring an increase in bullying.” Bullying is a concern many schools deal with inside their environment and many schools over the past decade have done all in their ability to limit the amount of bullying in their system which gives valid concern for the loosening of this policy against cell phones. However, it was implied that cell phones bring a technological benefit to the classroom and would be a good addition to the lesson plans for many teachers. An Example of this being added to a lesson plan is the trivia game Kahoot, where students compete in a trivia based game that exercises knowledge and preparation towards studying for a test or another big assessment. For many students cell phones are also a tool to help students stay prepared, many students are required to hold calculators, laptops, and even have the ability to write down notes but many students don’t have the capacity to hold these things. A cell phone provides all of this in the matter of a touch of a button or press of an app bringing up the necessary tools to keep students prepared in the learning. This leaves to the opinions and decisions of many educators and principals across the state and nation to decide whether their schools should begin to decrease restrictions on the policy or not.