School procedures debate: Should cell phones be allowed in the classroom?

Today, younger and younger generations own cell phones. Children as young as first graders are using them, whether it is for a safety reason, or simply entertainment. According to the NPR article, “It’s A Smartphone Life: More Than Half of U.S. Children Now Have One,” the numbers of young cell phone owners are alarming. “Just over half of children in the United States — 53 percent —own a smartphone by the age of 11,” the article states. Most of the owners are in the double digits, at the very least. “84 percent of teenagers now have their own phones, immersing themselves in a rich and complex world of experiences that adults sometimes need a lot of decoding to understand,” the article states.

With all this said, schools have been dealing with whether to allow phones in their classrooms for many years now. While there are many school districts which have set firm bans forbidding cell phones in the classroom, there are also many that believe there is a place for them. Teachers worldwide can attest to both the benefits, as well as hindrances, from inviting phones into the classroom. Undecided on which stance you would take if you were in the classroom? Read on for six pros and cons on whether or not these devices have a place within education’s four walls.  

PRO Reason # 1: Cell phones are inescapable. Considering the statistics already discussed, there is no denying that most students, especially in the upper grades, will have phones of their own. Rather than going against this technology, why not lean into it? With the vast array of learning apps, some schools and teachers are using their students’ phones to their advantage. 

PRO Reason #2: Allowing phones in schools provides extra safety measures. Sadly today, we cannot say that schools are the safest places to be. By allowing phones in the classroom, students will have access to contacting parents if they have a medical emergency. They also can aid in emergencies to call emergency personnel quickly. 

PRO Reason #3: Cell phones can improve digital literacy. According to the article, “Cell phones in school: 11 reasons why they should be allowed,” cell phones open the door to a world of educational technology. Today, cell phones are “powerful handheld computers with cameras, speakers, access to the internet, educational apps, and worldwide communication.” By allowing students to use them, teachers will be able to teach them how to use them safely.

CON Reason #1: Cell phones are incredibly distracting. According to the article, “Cell phones in the classroom: learning tool or distraction,” students often check cell phones while in class, which takes their attention away from the lesson. “When students use their cell phones to check social media and text their friends in class, it leads to distractions for those students as well as for their peers.”

CON Reason #2: Possibility of cheating. By having the magic of the internet at their fingertips, students are much more inclined to look up an answer to a test or quiz if they have their phones. Whereas if students do not have access to phones, they simply must rely on their prior knowledge. 

CON Reason #3: Cyberbullying can occur much more often. If we allow cell phones in the classroom, students will have the ability to quickly snap a picture of someone and post it with a snide comment. Cyberbullying is already prevalent among teens, yet it will grow quickly and easily if allowed into the classrooms. All of this could lead to tears, depression, or worse.  

These are just a few of the many pros and cons of having cell phones in the hands of students. Now that you know the rewards and risks, what is your stance? 

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