Classroom Smart(Phones)

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Schools have always been behind when it comes to their cell phone policies. Many schools say that students can’t have their cell phones with them during the day, otherwise they’ll be confiscated. Still, others treat them like they would other technology, and say only available for use during lunch. There are a few who seem to embrace the cell phone as part of today’s education, but these are specialized schools and not the public schools so many children go to.

First, the main issue with enforcing a rule such as not having cell phones during the day is that it’s difficult to enforce. The idea is that if you see the cell phone, you pick it up — but if you don’t see the phone, you can’t. Many students keep their phones in their pockets or in their bags, and are capable of quick texts before teachers know what’s happened. If the teacher tries to ask a student to hand over their cell phone, they arguably cannot — without having to search the student or their bag.

This same situation comes into play with the only-at-lunch rule. While it does seem like a good idea to have a designated usage time, it doesn’t do much for students other than give them a legitimate time they can use their phones. There’s still plenty of other spaces for them. For example, when a student asks to go to the bathroom, you know they have their phone with them, and they’ll have time to use it. That’s just how it works.

Treating a cell phone like other technology is a better idea. You’re acknowledging that a phone can be more than just a communication device — for instance, many people listen to music on their phones. Everyone today seems to have earbuds in, so it only makes sense that people would use their phone for this as well. With this ruling comes a lot of good faith — do you trust that the students won’t distract their friends in class via texting?

It’s best to teach people phone etiquette. It’s never polite to have your phone out when someone is talking, even if it’s just to look something up, or if you swear you can do two things at once. Kids look to adults for all sorts of behavior, so it’s only right that when it comes to cell phones, we give them a good model.