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Cell Phones in Schools-The Benefits and Drawbacks
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Cell Phones in Schools-The Benefits and Drawbacks

· · 2 comments

Modern Necessity or Technological Distraction?

 

           Since the early 90s and well into the 2000s, cell phones have become an ever-increasing part of our daily lives. From the days of the Blackberry, to flip phones, to the invention of Apple’s iPhone, students and teachers have become dependent on mobile technology to keep them up to date with social media, viral internet news, and keeping them in constant communication with friends and family.

 

            Unfortunately, technology has also become a major distraction when it comes to education. With students vastly more interested in celebrity news, garnering social media likes and followers, texting, viral videos, and sending video clips over Snapchat and TikTok, it is easy to understand why opinions vary as to whether students should be allowed to have their phones in the classroom.

 

 

The Power of Technology in the Classroom

            In a 2009 article from Business Week, the argument is made that instead of incorporating more laptops into the classroom, schools should embrace cell phones since students are already bringing them to school. [1] It would allow students who already have phones to access online materials, send to their teachers when necessary, and access online school resources straight from their phone instead of having to be assigned laptops and being responsible for hundreds of dollars of the schools technology throughout the school year.

 

            As schools begin focusing more on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), the inclusion of technology like phones could prove to be beneficial when teaching students how to create applications that might one day run on different mobile operating systems. Additionally, mobile technology is increasingly popular when it comes to teaching students about robotics and programming. Being able to control creations with the simple use of a phone has now become a common project in many technology-based schools and computer science classrooms.

 

          While unfortunate to say, allowing phones in classrooms also provide a bit of security for students as well with the increased rates of school violence. Allowing students and teachers to have access to phones speeds up the response time to get help in dangerous situations like school shootings or if a student requires medical attention.

 

 

The Darker Side of Mobile Technology

             Though there may be countless potential positive uses for mobile technology in the classroom, teachers, administrators, and parents must always remember that technology can be used for more nefarious things.

 

            One of the most obvious abuses of technology, and cell phones specifically, is the ease of which cheating becomes possible. Students looking to get ahead by finding answers online or even stealing test materials, can save these materials to their phones or access them on websites to use while they’re in class.

 

            Academic dishonesty can destroy the scholarly reputation of even the best students. While a simple punishment could be as simple as a failing grade on an assignment or test, more severe punishments could even call for a student’s expulsion from school.

 

            Though cheating and access to study materials may be an academic issue for the school, cell phones can also ruin the personal lives of students in ways that were not possible ten to twenty years ago.

 

            For example, bullying used to end in the schoolyard. Now, due to 24/7 access to social media, bullying can continue in the digital world where there is practically no filter for those who wish to do nothing other than cause harm to others. Adding to this problem is the anonymity of the internet. Those who wish to keep their identities secret can do so with complete ease. But when bullying never ends, the psychological results can be fatal for those who have no ways to cope.

 

            Furthermore, because young people do not understand the permanence of posting or sharing pictures or words online, they often don’t realize their actions have repercussions. A picture intended to be shared privately can end up in phones of multiple people and destroy reputations. A screenshot of text messages filled with gossip can be shared and all parties involved can cause turmoil with friends or social groups.

 

            From cheating, cyberbullying, to the sharing of inappropriate photos and text messages, cell phones may cause more social harm than educational good. [2]

 

 

Finding Solutions to a Modern Problem

            Unfortunately, parents and students are on both sides of the fence of whether cell phones are a necessary evil or technological blessing. While some parents feel cell phones have no place in schools and students should be spending their time learning, others feel they are important, as parents want to be able to reach their children in the event of an emergency.

 

            Schools across the country have implemented their own rules and policies regarding cell phones. Some schools have completely banned them from classes, while some have allowed phones in schools with special conditions such as making sure they’re on vibrate during class times or having special locations for phones, so students are not distracted by them during class.

 

            States around the country are currently exploring legislative options on how to control mobile devices in classrooms, making it appear parents may end up having a vote in how the technology will be used in schools. However, while some schools may end up considering the battle a lost cause and allowing students to have phones with conditions, it does not remove the dangers of the potential social disruption it causes in the lives of students. Until parents, schools, and leaders come together to figure out ways to combat cyberbullying, cheating, and the exchanging of inappropriate material between students, the debate on cell phones in schools is likely to continue.

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