Should Cell-Phones Be Allowed In School Settings?

July 4, 2013
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Generally, cell phones are frowned upon in school settings and for some good reasons too. Yes, they can cause distractions- which can lead to lowering of grades, impulsive behaviors, and even attitude problems. Cell phones seem to be at the beginning of a long list of grievances, but what some people don’t realize is that having cell phones in school can be a matter of life or death. Not only are cell phones an important tool in keeping students safe, they are also being implemented in education in helpful, interactive ways. Besides that, by allowing cell phones in school, it will also save the school’s money.

Supporters of cell phones to be banned in school will argue that mobile phones are a distraction in class. There’s no debate about this. Cell phones can easily act as a distraction to other students and teachers during class time. The blaring ring tones and rippling vibrations make both teaching and learning difficult. Teachers try to prevent students from texting under desks and behind books, because students tend to pay more attention to their cell phones than lessons. However, people should also realize that a cell phone can be the next thing that can save life. Schools keep an outward appearance of being a safe environment, but you never know when student’s lives can be endangered by other kids or adults. Phones can always be turned off to prevent distractions. If you compare between distraction in class and safety in class, safety will always win. Take the Columbine Massacre, for instance. On April 20, 1999, teenagers Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris walked into Columbine High school in Littleton, Colorado carrying sub-machine guns and self-made bombs with the intention of doing some serious damage. Thirteen innocent people were murdered, and many more would have followed if it weren’t for some students and their cell-phones. Teenager Bob Sapin calls the police on his cell phone while hiding for his life. He describes what the two murderers look like, and the location of the school. Another student, James, dialed 911 once he realized that the phone lines were jammed. If these two and many others wouldn’t have called the police and an ambulance, it could’ve been hours until help had arrived, hours in which more students would have been killed.

Cell phones are also a vital instrument in preventing kidnappings, or help save the victims of a kidnapping. On an NAU campus, a student was kidnapped, drugged, and assaulted. Another death would’ve made it to the headlines if that student didn’t have her cell-phone on her, which she used to send a message to her roommate, pleading for help. Luckily, the police arrived and were able to save her from further harm.
Though it may seem the opposite of what we are led to believe, cell phones actually are helping students be prepared, and not just in times of danger. There are studies being done that show cell phones being implemented in ways helpful towards learning. “The study followed teachers in three schools who began exploring ways to use students’ personal phones as well as additional borrowed smart phone. The researchers came away with a yes verdict and offered some specific ways in which cell phone technology could support learning.” (Thomas, “Cell phones- Time to Lift the Ban on Mobiles in the School Setting?”).

In these researches, teachers found that they could use cell phones in a variety of ways. They recorded using it as a stopwatch, photographing experiments, synchronizing calendars and timetables, and transferring information between school and home. The phones also had many positive side effects on the kids. The kids were more motivated to do their school work, and cell phones replaced other devices, such as calculators, dictionaries, textbooks even!

In Abilene Christian University, iPhone 3G’s were handed out to the students and asked to use them during school. The students found that they could brainstorm ideas using these phones, receive virtual handouts and assignments from teachers, and even the teachers saw that they could use them to monitor attendance. As William Ranklin, the co-director of mobile learning research in school said, “This is a new platform for learning, in the same way a laptop or a desktop was a new platform.” (Kharif, “Cell Phones Make Headway In Education”). Speaking of laptops, cell phones are a viable replacement for them. Cell phones cost much less than laptops, in fact, an iPhone costs around two-hundred to three-hundred dollars, whereas a single laptop costs around seven-hundred dollars. That’s a huge price difference, one that could save schools thousands. Not only are these cell phones cheaper than laptops, they’re also more accessible. A lot of kids don’t have access to computers, but having a cell phone is an easier, cheaper solution to that problem.

With all the positive points presented, people that want cell phones to be banned in school will argue that cell phones are used for cheating purposes in examinations. Well, cheating is perhaps the only valid reason to ban cell phone use in schools. But, cheating can also be done just as easily without cell phone, especially in schools containing numerous computer labs, where they are readily accessible. As history has shown, any effort to fight against technology is insignificant. So, banning cell phone from school just because it can be used for cheating is irrelevant. Just because it can be used for cheating, it does not mean that it will be used for cheating. There are various tricks to cheat in examination and if cell phone is being one of the reasons, teachers can easily collect mobile phones from student right before the examination starts.

In a short span of only five years, cell phones begun approaching laptops in terms of utility. A computer is no longer needed to email or use other valuable tools. In the classroom, a mobile device has an unimaginable number of uses. A teacher could use certain software to take polls and even send the students on scavenger hunts. The range of available software consists of word processor, animation programs, spreadsheets, and even concept math. These turn a cell phone into a portable classroom. A mobile device’s utility can be as simple, yet valuable, as a calculator. The possibilities of a phone can extend far beyond the classroom. Using some more simple, yet effective, functions, students can photograph and take video for other school projects. With MP3, it is even possible to perform an impromptu interview or record a lecture. It can even be used to push note-taking into the digital age.

The most appealing benefit of introducing cell phone to schools is the huge sums of money that can be cut from a budget. Today’s cell phones, even inexpensive ones, are incredibly powerful tools in comparison to earlier models. It is uncommon to find a student without a mobile device in this day and age. Even among impoverished families, cell phones are popular, making the technology widespread and known by almost all. In schools today, technologies are essential and research shows that these technologies do improve the students’ grades. But, the school management chose to spend a really big amount of money to purchase various technologies for the students in the name of “to help the students” instead of allowing the students to bring their cell phones to school which have the same functionality with the technologies purchased by the school. In fact, the cell phones that most students use today are even more useful and advanced compared to the old and slow computers that school are able to provide. This shows that the school is just wasting the money that could be spent on something else more worthy. Technology’s progression will not be stopped; schools that adapt cell phones as tools and efficient budget-cutters will experience the benefits. A more modern system of learning is needed; one that will utilize the vast amount of technology we have available in this age such as cell phones in which, nearly every students have. It is a high mobility device and that is why we have to consider it. If we don’t consider it today, it will be considered in the future, eventually. We cannot escape progression. Modern cell phones are getting cheaper day by day. So, why don’t we introduce it into the school system today?

In conclusion, cell phones should be allowed in school because they increase the safety, enhance the learning process and school management is able to save money. There are so many benefits to having this technology in school. The school day will definitely become more enjoyable if we could incorporate cell phones into the lessons. We need to save ourselves from the old teaching ways and embrace the new technology that is out there and given to us. Time moves forward, not backward. So, let us all start it with one step forward first, which is by allowing cell phones in school.

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