Should students be allowed to use mobile phones in class?

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Depending on what generation you’re in or how strict your school was, the rules regarding having your mobile phone in class may have been different. Some schools banned them completely, some allowed students to bring phones to school but leave them in lockers and some allowed students to have them in class if they were on silent. One thing is the same: schools tend to enforce restrictions on students’ phone use during lesson time.

Schooling is all about moulding young minds, and preparing students to live competently in adulthood. So doesn’t it seem a bit odd and outdated that mobile phones would be banned during school, when they are such a huge component of adult life; both in the workplace and in social occasions?

However, some make the convincing argument that the traditional banning of mobile phones needs to remain in place for a variety of reasons. So we’re going to analyse both sides of the argument:

Pro phones in schools  

The mayor of New York recently lifted a decade-long ban on mobile phones on school premises.

It’s suggested that the change will better enable parents to stay in touch with their children, especially before and after school.

This new policy recognizes that, in this day and age, technology is very much a part of students’ everyday lives. It also asserts that we shouldn’t find the incorporation of technology in education, but help students realise how to use it productively and responsibly.

“Technology and communications is always evolving, and the Chancellor’s proposal to lift the cell phone ban is a great step in the right direction,” said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Students should have access to various means of communication, and I hope schools find common ground to ensure that communications are widely accessible, while maintaining a strong learning environment.”

It does seem that since mobile phones are such a useful tool in working life, teaching students to work with them in a learning environment could prepare them for the future. Pretending they don’t exist in a working environment seems like a waste of an amazingly useful tool at students’ disposal.  

Anti phones in schools

Mobile phones have been banned in schools for years, justified by the idea that they are distracting to students and therefore compromise learning capabilities.

This belief has a fair bit of support from recent research. A study of mobile phone bans in the UK surveyed schools in four cities about their mobile phone policies and compared them with student achievement data from national exams.  

After schools banned mobile phones, test scores of 16-year-old students increased by 6.4%.

However, there is more to mobile phones in the classroom than whether they can be a bit distracting. There are other major concerns that lead people to believe they should remain banned at schools.

Cyber bullying is seen as a growing and destructive phenomenon that affects the wellbeing of students. Allowing smartphones on school premises, or in classrooms, could cause victims further distress, as they could be exposed to cyber bullying during school hours.  

The Guardian also recently pointed out another problem, the fact that mobile phones in schools could highlight inequalities among students.  According to some estimations, Australian parents spend, on average, a total of $50,000 on their children’s education. When factoring in the cost of smartphones, which need to be updated every 2 years at a cost of $1,000 per phone, this total cost skyrockets and may be out of many parents’ budget.  

In Australia, most schools favour mandatory uniform for students because it’s a great social leveller. Standing out as someone with subpar clothes is difficult when everyone is forced to wear the same thing, so children are less likely to be unfairly pitied or outright ridiculed by others with better clothing than them. The argument stands just as strong for mobile phones; if they are kept out of schools, students don’t need to worry that their phone is an indication of their family’s wealth.

There are some convincing points on either side. Someday mobile phones might be incorporated into the learning experience at schools, but for now it seems in the best interest of students to keep them out.

What do you think? Leave us a comment below!

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Felicity Cullen

Marketing assistant at Esendex