The Contraries of having Cell Phones in High Schools Cell-phone use is becoming more and more common among students. According to CTIA-The Wireless Association, 79% of teenagers (about 17 million) have a mobile device. This has created problems in schools all over the country, which now face the daily distractions of students who want to text, play games, or browse the Internet on their cell phones. The question of whether cell phones should be allowed in schools has been hotly debated over the years.
The reality is, bans on cell phones are hard for schools to enforce. A 2010 Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that 65 percent of cell-owning teens at schools that completely ban phones bring their phones to school every day anyway. The contraries of having cell phones in high schools have several reasons such as cheating, distraction and non- safety. Forget passing handwritten notes underneath desks or inking your arm with essential math formulas before a killer test. If students today want to cheat, they have a more insidious tool at their disposal: cell phones.
Smart phones and other applications such as calculator in particular can be used to cheat on tests and quizzes. Take a picture of the test, send it to your buddy, and get a text back with the answer. Or send it to someone who wants to know what’s on the test. The calculator function can be used to cheat on math tests. Having the Internet on the phone provides for an opportunity to cheat. Students can refer to the Internet for answers on a test, or they could text an accomplice for the answers. They could also photograph information from a textbook and use that to cheat in the test.
Neither of these acts leads to any sort of education for the students, but on the other hand, discourages them from working hard. The risk of potential cheating on academics is one of the main reasons why students are not allowed to bring hand phone in school. Cell phones can be a distraction in the classroom. Students often forget to turn off their phones in class, and ringing noises or text-message alerts disrupt learning. Students whose minds wander during a lecture or discussion may find the temptation of texting instead of listening hard to resist.
They are also potentially a distraction to the class if the student forgets to set their phone to vibrate rather than ring during calls. Even the vibration can be distracting, and it does not take much for a teacher to lose their moment. An April 2010 study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project and the University of Michigan found that in schools that permitted students to have cell phones, 71 percent of students sent or received text messages on their cell phones in class. In the majority of schools, those that allow students to have phones in school but not use them in the classroom – the percentage was almost as high: 65%.
Even in schools that ban cell phones entirely, the percentage was still a shocking 58%. However, none of these supposed advantages can overcome one very basic disadvantage: Cell phones distract students from school work and class activities. Half of teens send 50 or more text messages a day. According to the Pew study, “Older teen girls ages 14-17… average 100 messages a day. ” It’s naive to imagine that students armed with cell phones won’t be quietly typing away under their desks, sending messages or surfing the Internet.
And this activity is much harder to regulate than traditional note-passing. Cell phones allow students to communicate not just with students in other classes, but also other schools and even adults that are not in the school environment. There is the potential for social disagreements, and even communication with an adult who is not approved by parents. It can lead to students having episodes of being upset while a teacher is trying to conduct lessons. Banning cell phones won’t eliminate social break ups or disagreements, but it can reduce opportunities for these kinds of issues.
Most schools allow students to have cell phones for safety because of a reaction to the Littleton, Colorado, high school shooting incident of 1999. Apart from emergency situations, most schools don’t officially allow students to use cell phones during class time. However, cell phone is not safety for students, especially for high school students at all. When the teacher is busy helping out another student or writing on the board, outcome the phones as students send instant messages to friends, listen to music, or watch videos on the Internet.
Eventually, the teacher notices and warns them that their phones will be confiscated. The phones disappear with reluctant obedience until the next opportunity arises to surreptitiously pull them out again. Many high school students have grown unaccustomed to reading anything longer than a 140-character tweet. And at a time when calculators are available on every cell phone, they’ve grown more dependent than ever on letting machines solve even the simplest of problems. What students lose in such a dependency is an ability to respond quickly on their feet.
In a boardroom presentation, for example, as well as a keen common sense about math and science. There’s no thinking going on. Addition to the reasons, cell phones with a connection to the Internet (therefore, Facebook and Twitter) can be even more of a distraction and can be used for cyber-bullying. Over a quarter (26%) of teen cell phone users reported having been harassed by someone else through their cell phone. Girls are significantly more likely to experience this (30%) than boys (22%). This trend is more common for those teens whose parents are under 40 and low in educational attainment.
Respondents discussed how harassment can occur through voice calls and text messages. In a voice context, it is often in the form of prank calls. Both voice and text are used to deliver threats and insults. In addition, sexual harassment was mentioned by some, which may help explain why girls reported higher incidences of cell phone harassment overall than boys in the survey. Several teens also reported that cell phones are used to indirectly harass others behind their back, for instance by spreading false rumors.
With the prevalence of cell phones in high schools, it is important for students, parents, teachers, and administrators to carefully consider how and when they should be used. Students need more than just discipline in the classroom. They also need to be inspired to learn about the wonders of life, of humanity, of nature, of our planet, of the cosmos. School policies outlawing cell phones are clearly not enough. The effective teacher must connect with his or her students in order to hold their attention.
There must be a magnetism, a bond between them, a sparking of a brotherhood in the battle for knowledge such as a quest to figure things out, to understand, and to marvel and rejoice in that insight. All of this may seem easier said than done, and the most idealistic teachers often find themselves running up against unimaginative curricula and restrictive policies. But the incessant cell phone use going on in our classrooms must serve as a challenge, forcing us to remember what education is really about. The teacher’s goal must be to instill an insatiable desire to learn.
Because both inside and outside the classroom, there’s so much to do and so little time.
- Langhorst, Paul. “Cell Phone Bans in School – Pros and Cons”. bullyonline. org. Bully Online. 2 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2012.
- Lenhart, Amanda; Ling, Rich; Campbell, Scott and Purcell, Kristen. “ Teens and Mobile Phone”. Pewinternet. org. PewInternet. 20 Apr. 2010.
- Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Watters, Audrey. “Why Schools Should Stop Banning Cell Phones, and Use Them for Learning”. Pbs. org. Mediashift. 29 Aug. 2011. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.