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Has your cell phone ever gone off in class during a test or when the teacher was teaching? Mobile devices have been accessible all around the world for the past 10 years, but neither school officials nor the legislators have yet come to a clear resolution on allowing students to use them at school. This led to more unsolved issues and debates concerning the use of cell phones. Cell phones were invented to be able to connect to families and friends in an instant across the world. Permitting students to have cell phones on school grounds, parents are able to call or text their children to see how they are doing in school and vice versa. Allowing students to use their cell phones at school is beneficial such that it provides instant communication and convenience, personal safety, and can even be a learning tool.
Having a cell phone at school is convenient for both students and parents. Although most parents hope they will never come to this, but sometimes something happens and they need to get in touch with their child while they are in class. It could be because of an accident, a family emergency, or a death in the family that may need his or her attention. Sometimes, it could even be over small matters like pick up your brother or sister on the way home, or I am not able to pick you up afterschool today (Kwan). Having a cell phone at school can be handy and useful to both parties, when there is a need for re-scheduling after-school activities, or when there is a change in family plans. No matter what the reason is, having a cell phone will allow for an easier and faster way of communicating. When parents are able to get in touch with their child, they wouldn’t have to look up the school’s number and call to have the office staffs deliver the message in which then the office staff will either call the student to the office during class time or call the classroom telephone interrupting the teacher. However, there is always the possibility that the child’s cell phone goes off in class and ends up disrupting the teacher while she is teaching. Either way, it seems that there will be some sort of disruption to the class. Whether it comes from the office staff or from the cell phone, the child knows how to use the phone responsibly, by turning it on silent or vibrate then disrupting the class can be avoided. By allowing students to have cell phones on school grounds and using it responsibly, it can save everybody time and disruption (Shaw).
All parents worry about their children’s safety, especially when something happens at school like bomb threats or shootings. It has been stated that most bomb threats called in to schools were made through cell phones and they are nearly impossible to be traced by the public safety officials. So in terms of students’ safety at school, cell phones have not been allowed at school. Officials believe that the student’s use of cell phones during a bomb threat presents a risk of potentially detonating the bomb (“Cell Phone and Pager Issues”). That might be true in some cases, but research studies states that students who have cell phones at school will be less likely injured on a serious level than those who don’t. Cell phones have been proven to be lifesavers in emergency situations by providing the police with essential and timely information. Not only can they provide police officers with information, but they can also be used to contact parents directly. Students who have cell phones in these cases can assist in keeping the school phone lines open instead of being jammed with calls from anxious and upset parents (Shaw).
Although mentioned earlier that cell phones may be disruptive to the educational environment if not used responsibly, having cell phones in school, believe it or not, can actually increase the value of educational experience. Many cell phones now have either a camera or a video recorder. This is beneficial to the students in that they can use it to take pictures or record things in class. For example, a student in science class may be exposed to a certain type of creature or plant that they have never seen before and probably won’t come across it anywhere else. Instead of having to draw a quick sketch of the organism where details will be missed, the student can take out their cell phone and take a picture of it (Kwan). Even though there are no state or federal laws, at the moment, prohibiting the use of cell phones in school or for learning purposes, many schools have created policies that forbids students to even bring cell phones to school. The outcome is that teachers presume cell phones as disruptive and not as a learning tool. Many teachers worry that by allowing students to have cell phones at school, they are “simply giving them another toy to distract their attention from class lessons.” Also, another major argument made by the teachers is that they fear that cell phones will be used inappropriately in class. For example, the cell phones could be used to take inappropriate pictures that might then be published onto the Internet “unbeknownst” to both the subject and the teacher which will then lead to chaos with the school and the subject’s parents (Kolb 11-13).
As technology advances and time went on, some teachers have openly pointed out that cell phones may just have reasonable and justifiable academic uses. For example, older students who have cell phones are able to conduct phone interviews during class time with teacher supervision. Cell phones these days not only have recorders, but they also have Internet capability, integrated calculators, and even memories large enough to hold an entire book. Cell phones come in handy for schools that have limited technologies available for student use by mimicking a computer (Shaw). There was also a study undergone by Elizabeth Hartnell-Young, a University of Nottingham researcher and co-author who decided to incorporate the uses of “Smartphones,” which are just known as cell phones with Internet access and other advanced functions. The study tracked 331 teens for nine months from ages 14 to 16 at five schools that were willing to partake in the study. The study required the teachers to incorporate the use of smartphones in class and have the students use the smartphones to set homework reminders, create short movies, record poems read by their teachers, phone stopwatches, access appropriate Web sites, and transfer electronic files between home and school. The result of the study was smartphones improved lessons taught in class. The participants said they liked the experiment and felt more motivated when working with the smartphones. Of the teens who participated, 51% said they consider the cell phone a crucial means to getting important information (Docksai 10-11).
Another important reason why cell phones are not allowed in school is because of cheating. Cell phones have become more powerful and classy which increases the opportunities of cheating for students. Some teachers have caught high school students taking pictures of the exam to pass along to another student in a later class. Other ways include texting the answers to each other while taking the tests, texting to a cheating agent source that responds within 5 minutes with the correct answer, surfing the web for answers (if applicable), or putting notes on the phone as cheat sheets (Shaw). Although this is a huge setback for allowing students to have cell phones at school, a way to solve this is by establishing a rule when taking tests or exams. Teachers and staff members simply just needs to take control of the situation by controlling when students can bring their cell phones in to the classroom, and when they can keep them during class. A way that has been done before is to collect the students’ cell phones as they enter the classroom on the day of the test and have them grab it on the way out (Kolb 13). Though it is still not clear whether or not the controversy concerning cell phones at school will be resolved, it is obvious that cell phones have already become a permanent part of our society. It is true that there seems to be more cons then pros of allowing students to have cell phones at school, but trying to ban cell phones is as useless and ineffective as trying to ban calculators from classrooms (Shaw).
Mobile devices have been accessible all around the world for the past 10 years and it is still improving drastically as technology advances. Keeping up with these changes is never easy especially when no one knows what the outcomes will be like. It is unclear what the benefits and the negative aspects will be, but it is a necessary process. Cell phones were first invented for one reason, to connect to families and friends in an instant across the world. Now it has advanced into something more and hopefully in the future it will become more beneficial allow students to use their cell phones at school openly.
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