Front and center of tomorrow's society – learn smarter, teach harder
We do not need to ban all cell phones from schools: just smartphones. Create a school policy of no smartphones but allow for the use of “burner” or “old school” phones that have just call and text features – yes, the “dumb phones”. Dumb phones are cheaper, have the capability of communicating with parents if an emergency rises, and have less distracting features. Let’s venture down this rabbit hole.
The strongest argument from the students and parents is that cell phones are needed in school so they may contact each other in case of some emergency. Phones at school bypass the need to use of the middle man (i.e. the school) so that the guardian-student lines of communication are directly established. There are many valid reasons why
students should be able to keep these direct lines of communication available – school secretaries will be highly appreciative that they will not be bombarded with a hoard of students all wanting to use the school’s phone at dismissal.
However, teachers and administrators have had severe issues students using their smartphones to record fights, lewd acts, and other buffoonery. This is on top of the distracting phones behaviors of texting, video watching and other actions that distract students from the lesson at hand. Keep in mind that schools are empowered to remove elements that distract/disrupt the learning environment – and in this case, smartphones. Moreover, there have been a large number of cases where teachers fight (figuratively and literally) with students over putting up or relinquishing their cell phones due to unauthorized use of them during school hours. However, there is need to drop the Mjolnir hammer on an issue that can be slightly altered to create somewhat of a win-win situation. Enter the dumbphones.
Can parents and students contact each other for emergencies while students are at school using a dumbphone? Yes. Will dumb phones cut down on the filming of fights and usage of social media? Absolutely! You can’t record on a phone that does not have a camera! Dumbphones will also significantly cut down on the use of frivolous texting in class since it is usually more difficult/time-consuming to use for that function. Dumb phones are far less expensive ($30-100 for a good one) and could even save parents money in the long run (i.e. dumbphones do not need data plans mom and dad!).
I do understand that some schools/classrooms have BYOD (bring your own device) policies if they do not have the funding to provide smart technological devices or because they want to divert those funds for other initiatives. Understood, you can keep that policy if you want and find other ways to mitigate disruptive smartphone uses on campus. That struggle comes with the territory of having teens use smartphones on
campus. But if you want to enter a happy medium of allowing students to have cell phones on campus for guardian-student communication and decreasing distractions in class, then implement a burner/dumbphone policy. A great, dumb idea.