Cell Phones in Class: Acceptable or Not?

Lisa Nielsen wrote a post about “5 Reasons to Allow Students to Use Cell Phones in Class.”  Allowing cell phones in class goes completely against the rules we are used to.  Things are starting to change though.  For example, the year after I graduated from high school, students were allowed to start using their phones at lunch.  That was a big deal at my high school.  Phones had always been confiscated at lunch!  In my opinion, phones should always be allowed in between classes and during lunch.  I can’t believe it took until 2010 for the rule to change.

Now, some educators think cells phones should be used in class. Nielsen gives 5 reasons why:

  1. We should allow students to use the tools they’ll be using in life after graduation.
  2. We should use the technology that is readily available.
  3. Mobile devices are great for teaching 21st Century skills.
  4. If administrators use their phones, students should be able to as well.
  5. Allows opportunities to teach students responsible ways of using technology.

Lisa Nielsen thinks that cell phones enhance learning; but do they?images

In my opinion, only #2 and #4 are valid reasons to use cell phones in class.  Most schools are on a tight budget and reason #2 makes a good point that cell phones are readily available because most students have them.  For #4, I completely agree that a double standard is not okay.  Here’s why I think the other reasons are kind of lame:

#1: Students will use their phones regardless.  Typically, they know how to use them better than we do.  We don’t need to teach them how to use their phones.  They use them plenty outside of school.

#3: Any technology is good for teaching 21st century skills.  Sometimes, no technology is good for teaching 21st century skills because students need to learn to think creatively.  When they just get ideas off Google, they aren’t thinking independently.

#5: You don’t have to specifically use cell phones to teach students how to be responsible with technology and the internet.

Since I only graduated high school 4 years ago, I know that students aren’t going to use their cell phones for the right reasons in class.  Maybe a few will, but most just care about updating their social media.  To be honest, I’m in graduate school and I still don’t use my cell phone for learning purposes in class…that’s what my computer is for!  Therefore, I tend to think cell phones interrupt learning.

However, kids are getting cell phones earlier and earlier in life.  I know a 6 year old with a cell phone!  That’s first grade.  Maybe, elementary school teachers can help students learn how to use their cell phones appropriately in class at early age.

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Then, maybe, by the time those students get to high school, they’ll use them appropriately in class.  Just an idea, but teenagers will always be teenagers and I’m not sure if cell phones will ever be a good idea in class.