Everyone, it seems, has a cell phone, including kids. Young people rely on their cells for communication with parents and friends, entertainment with games and music downloads, the list goes on and on. And like most adults, children take their cell phones with them everywhere they go, even into their classrooms at school. This situation has brought about considerable debate between school administrations and parents and students as to how cell phone use in schools should be handled. Here are 10 disadvantages to allowing kids to have cell phones in schools.
- Distraction for the group: A ringing phone, or beeping text, or buzzing “reminder” are all distracting sounds that disrupt the classroom. School is a child’s “work” and if cell phones are going off, how much work is anyone getting done? It’s bound to happen- people forget to silence their phones, and then everyone is distracted.
- Distraction for the individual: So, let’s say, for instance, that the cell phone is silenced or set to “vibrate only.” The rest of the class may not be bothered by the phone, but the person holding the phone certainly will be. Every time a message comes in or a phone vibrates, the first reaction is to stop what one is doing, including listening to a teacher present a lesson, and answer the call, or check the text. Learning can only be hampered by allowing this type of distraction.
- Reduction in Learning: Even if cell phone use could be limited in a school, say during lunch and study hall time, there is still an environment of expectation that someone will call or text. Students are focusing on their phones and messages during times when prior to cell phones, students would talk about their lessons or homework for the day.
- Disrespectful: Even if it is lunchtime or between classes, it’s rude to spend time texting or talking on a cell phone. Students need to develop face to face relationships, and if they spend a majority of their time at school communicating on their cell phones, they are not learning how to build a relationship in person.
- Cheating: Cell phones offer a completely new way for students to cheat on tests and assignments. Students can text answers to each other while sitting in the same classroom. A student in a morning class can take a picture of the test questions with their phone/camera and text it to a friend who has the class in the afternoon allowing for more opportunities to cheat. A better policy is to just not allow cell phones in schools.
- Theft: Cell phones are attractive, full of cool technology and expensive. Everyone wants the latest model. Schools that allow students to have cell phones in school have seen a tremendous increase in theft complaints. Best to leave them at home or in a locked car to prevent these thefts.
- Loss: The multitasking student has a lot to keep track of and having a cell phone in school is just one more thing. It can get expensive to replace that lost, misplaced, or forgotten cell phone.
- Breakage: Schools are not the safest places for cell phones. Students bump into each other, they slam books and bags into lockers. Things fall on the floor. This is an environment where a cell phone can be damaged. With the expense involved in purchasing a cell phone, it is best to leave it out of the school.
- Invasion of privacy: Many models of cell phones come with cameras. Sometimes unscrupulous students will take pictures of other students, in the locker room, for instance, and use those pictures to instigate harassment or bullying.
- Fueling the rumor mill: in the old game “telephone”, a message was whispered into the ear of a child who then passes that message on by whispering into the ear of the next child, and so on, until all students have heard the message. When the last person hears the message, he or she stands up and repeats the message to the rest of the class, finding much to his dismay that his final story bears little resemblance to the message as it began. Today’s “telephone” game is similar and texting messages can spread through students much faster, oftentimes setting off unnecessary and unfounded rumors and fears.
With easily accessible technology that cell phones offer, comes a whole new world of issues and problems for schools. If students leave their cell phones home and school boards create policies disallowing their use in schools, Pandora’s box of cell phone problems will not be opened.