Cell Phones – Banned, Prohibited, Restricted or Allowed?

Should cell phones be banned in schools?

This was the debate I was waiting for.  I have dealt with many discipline issues at school that trace back to cellphone use (in and out of school) that I was excited to hear the research gathered. If there is school-approved technology available such as laptops, computer use, iPads and Chromebooks for example, to provide the educational software and apps needed to enhance learning, why would students need to have their personal device that contains other distractions?

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In their book, Screen Schooled, Clements and Miles, not only discuss the negatives of cellphones in schools, but also the negative effects of technology overuse in schools.  They make many valid points and it is an interesting read (with lots of support for a pro-statement) but I believe that as with all technology, balanced use is key.

I agree with everything Jill and Tarina who stated that cell phones are distracting (and I loved the data they shared with the whiteboard experiment), school devices are safer (although I have seen kids get into trouble on school devices too), and that addiction to cell phones is a real problem. 

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The problem is, I can agree with all of those points, but cannot agree that cell phones should be banned in the classroom. That one word, is what kept me from jumping on the side of the pro-side of this debate, and Skyler and Alyssa made sure we all processed the word “banned” and the implications such a ban would have:  “Don’t make a ban, have a plan!”

Cellphones can be an effective tool for learning.  I have seen many students use phones as a second screen to follow along with tutorials.  I agree with Skyler that cellphones are a good tool for multi-tasking.  Alyssa also defended cellphones in school by encouraging educators to use negative and positive experiences with personal devices as opportunities to educate about safe spaces and digital citizenship. 

The open discussion offered a lot of perspectives:  teachers as role models with their phones, discipline due to the camera in the phone, Smart watches, parent support, sexting, and cellphone contracts.  This blog could be a novel with all of the information introduced.  This is one topic that I think I will delve into a little deeper on my own as well.

Cameras, Cell Phones Prohibited In Locker Rooms - Cell Phone ...
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I believe access to personal devices can have a lot of positive possibilities in a classroom, but like any privilege, if it is abused, that privilege can be removed.  Cellphones can have negative impacts on a classroom but also positive impacts on a classroom and therefore an out-right ban on cellphones is not feasible.  Like all technology, appropriate use must be modeled and taught.  There are times when cell phones should be prohibited or even restricted, but not banned.  The pros and cons of mobile phones in the classroom need to be considered.

Don’t make a ban, have a plan – is great mantra.  Now, time to start planning.

3 thoughts on “Cell Phones – Banned, Prohibited, Restricted or Allowed?

  1. You’ve piqued my interest in the book Screen Schooled. I’d be interested to read it to understand the authors’ experiences and perspectives, although both of our groups did a great job of highlighting the both sides of the argument. As you mentioned, the safety side of things is of utmost importance and these things can happen on school devices as well. I have witnessed a student printing off pornography from a school computer to the office printer (by default). Of course, they were banned from electronics for a spell, but those who were able to use it appropriately were still granted access to do so. However, students were monitored more closely after this incident as a finger was pointed at the teacher for not supervising their students during their time on the computer. It can be a slippery slope!

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  2. Great post Sherrie. For me, I think part of our job is to teach our students how to effectively use their phones for homework, assignments, or anything else that leads to productivity. As their use at home general revolves around entertainments (TikTok, Snap, Instagram), I think there are valuable lessons to be learned as to how they can use their device as a tool. I think they often don’t see their device as being a tool for more than just simple entertainment.

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  3. Hi Sherri,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. Just like you, I feel the word “ban” is quite harsh. Cellphones definitely have a lot of advantages and disadvantages and as you mentioned, kids need to be taught how to use them appropriately. I am experiencing each and every day the drama caused by kids being on social media. Children are getting cell phones before they reach a certain level of maturity and since the parents either don’t know how or do not take the time to teach them how to behave respectfully online, teachers need to deal with all the negative experiences. My 11-year-old daughter got the following text the other day at 9:30 P.M. after she said goodnight to her friend. “Ooof I used to go to bed at 9:30 when I was 5 or 6.” It was enough for me to be up for quite a while after trying to calm down my crying and embarrassed girl. I definitely think, that schools need to step up and start educating both students and parents. If we do not work together as a team, we are sending mixed messages to our children.

    Thank you,
    Melinda

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