The cellphone: a “pacifier” for students

Should phones be allowed in school?

Should schools be a no cellphone zone?

Cellphones and similar devices, do they have a spot in the classroom? In the past few years with all the newest smartphones and gadgets being released schools have began to see more and more of them being brought to school.  These days, how often is it for a cellphone to go off in class, the *ring* ring* of an incoming call or the hum of the receival of a text message. Here at Saint’s, it is not out of the norm to see students on their portable devices throughout the school day. Grade. 10 student Kenneth Ng  says, “It’s so common to see students with their heads buried into their electronics, especially during breaks, even when the weather is nice outside.” According to a recent study, the average teenager spends around an hour a day of quality time on their smartphone with the rest of the time on social network, texting, calling, and more. According to a study done at Kent State University, frequent cell phone use can be linked to anxiety, lower grades, and reduced happiness.

There can be some justification for using cellphones at school however, such as parental contact. Other common uses for phones include taking pictures of notes, taking videos of demonstrations or looking up the occasional fact in class. Another popular use of the phone in class is to type notes on them. However, according to Dr. Virginia Berniger, who studies reading and writing systems in relationship to learning processes, writing out notes rather than typing is much more effective. “With writing, you use your hand to form the letters (and connect them), thereby more actively engaging the brain in the process. Typing, on the other hand, involves just selecting letters by pressing identical-looking keys.” Another common usage of phones during school is the occasional call to home asking mom or dad to deliver a forgotten item to school. If not almost every student had their own cellular devices, these call home would not be possible. There are two phones provided by the school for students to use but cellphones ensure there is no wait time for the school phones.

Whether it’s during class, in the halls, or during breaks, students can always be seen on their mobile devices. What are they so busy with? Sending Snapchats, posting pictures on Instagram, writing Facebook status’, the list goes on and on. One student, Kai Yung, tells The Creed, “I love playing flappy bird in class.” Students like Kai are often the one’s that do not take advantage of class time to work and instead, spend their time gaming. With all these new apps coming out at such easy access it is tough for students to focus in class. Gaming is taken quite seriously at the school now. Before, it was just a ban every Tuesday and Thursday at lunches, however, gaming is now a full time ban at the school. Earlier in the school year, the school blocked every website related to gaming as well as other sights such as netflix. Such drastic measures were taken to ensure that students would not be able to game during school hours and hopefully such actions are not enforced with cellphones. Teachers at Saints such as math teacher Ms.Kelly, are against cellphones at school. Ms. Kelly’s math classes have a no cellphone policy where if they are brought to class, they will be confiscated until the end of the week. At the beginning of the school year, she always gets her students to sign a pledge saying they will keep their phones in their lockers during math class. Being in her class this year I can say that work time was always productive. No one used their phones during class so the amount of distractions lessened. Although there was always the occasional person who forgot about the rule, those caught with their phones were quick to remember to keep their devices in their lockers. Initiatives such at this can ensure the best of both worlds as students can pay attention in class and use their devices during their down times. With our school’s incredibly competitive nature in academics cellphones can be seen as a tool to cheat with. Texting other students during tests, looking up answers online, and many more are all possible ways to cheat, and negative aspects of having a smartphone in class. These devices are really only frowned upon during exams where no electronic devices are allowed inside the examination room.

English teacher Mr. Roberts had a few words to say about these pesky devices in his classes. When asked about his experiences he commented with, “Up until this school year, I never really had any issues. I’d see phones every now and then, but inappropriate cell phone use in class wasn’t a problem. For my grade nine English class this year, it became a problem: for several kids, the cellphone was as a pacifier is to a baby. Many students seemingly could not go without. I did some talking with my peers and was surprised at how many teachers allow cell phones in class for this and/or that. In my opinion, the only purpose they can serve is a quick google search during a discussion. I tried to be flexible and bend a little, but my students seemed unable to control their urge.” Roberts finished by saying, “What made me laugh was how bitterly boys would complain when they violated the rule and I took their phones: again, babies and their pacifiers.”

So what’s the verdict? Should students be allowed to use these devices during school hours or should they be kept at home?