Cellphones: to ban or not to ban, that is the question!

Do schools need to change? Rural vs urban, public vs private, elementary vs high school – one thing all of these schools have in common is the struggle with student cell phone use! Restricting cell phone use in schools is like using a band aid to fix a water leak – it just doesn’t work! Students need to be taught responsible and appropriate online behaviour. We cannot just assume they are learning these skills at home. Doing so, actually puts our students at risk!

Many teachers, include myself, use cell phone “Parking Lots”. This was a suggestion from our administration and I like the consistency it provides in our school. However, I would like to get to the point where we can “trust” our students with their phones at their desks during class. By limiting their time, we are just prolonging the inevitable.

Teaching students to be good digital citizens, means not only teaching students the capabilities of technology, but also how to use it responsibly and respectfully. Not only explaining the risks and consequences of appropriate and safe online activity, but also the rules of Netiquette. Regardless of which rules you choose to implement in your classroom and school, it is important to remember that the most important thing is for teachers to be consistent and that expectations are clear to students. Simply banning cell phones does not help to prepare our students to participate in a digital society.

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9 thoughts on “Cellphones: to ban or not to ban, that is the question!

  1. I like your idea of cell phone parking lots, Jill. It’s always good to have some rules and regulations for our children because excessive use of everything is not good. However, I also agree with the trust factor, which is also very important.

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  2. I really like the infographic you shared here!

    I can see where you are coming from in pointing out the connection of having phones at school and teaching students how to use them responsibly. However, I work at a school with a no phone policy for the entire school and it is great. Our staff and students have found that since implementing this policy there has been less disruption in class as well as a decrease in bullying issues. Overall, I think that we can still teach students they skills they need to use technology properly, but they don’t need to have access to their phone during the school day to “practice” or put these skills to use. They are getting enough time outside of school on devices.

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  3. You hit the nail on the head when you talked about having to teach kiddos how to use technology responsibly and respectfully. I think all too often we assume that kiddos and adults know how to use technology perfectly, and use it for on-task purposes 100% of the time. What we often seem to forget with the BYOD policies, is integrating the groundwork policies and practicing with kiddos before we give them free rein with the devices. Getting all stakeholders in the know is also crucial to not only support the policies but to know that there are responsible and irresponsible ways to use technology that have consequences. Thanks for sharing your post.

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  4. I totally agree! Cellphone use in the classroom can actually be really beneficial too! I Have used different tech apps with students, or recording dramas/dances, all with the use of the cell phone. They aren’t going away anytime soon, so as long as they sign an appropriate use agreement and actually use them responsibly, I don’t see why cell phones can’t be used in classrooms more often. But again… it all depends on the administrator and what everyone is willing to put up with! Good ideas here! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Excellent post Jill, I teach high school and it was a very long first semester, with students hard to engage and very lacking in digital citizenship skills in the classroom. I am implementing a policy, much like you mention, except will only allow responsible cell phone use for those who have no missing assignments and have a passing grade. If these conditions are not met, then students should be doing work to meet outcomes in the course, not be on their phones. I will also do my best to express expectations and responsible use, but with necessary conditions and consequences! I agree, smartphones in the classroom and school are a real issue.

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  6. I completely agree with your thoughts, Jill. Cellphone use is so difficult to manage in the classroom, especially when there are so many other aspects of a classroom that we are already trying to manage. I like the idea of having a “Cellphone Parking Lot”, however I am always worried about the liability and responsibility that is given to me if I implement this in my classroom. Consistency is also a big barrier when considering cellphone usage, everyone has a different opinion (teachers, parents, students, admin.) which makes it difficult to create clear expectations for students. Teaching students to be good digital citizens and setting clear expectations of cellphone use within the classroom is definitely a good start for helping students to better manage their own technology. Is this enough though? Can I, as one teacher, have the power to create students who consistently act as good digital citizens? Or will this only work if a school creates a community of positive digital citizens?

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    • You are exactly right Kate-Lynn! This is the first year that our admin mandated student parking lots. They purchased the hanging sleeves and we implemeted them on day one in September. Most teachers even use it! In terms of consistency, I believe this is the only way to go. However, as staff we still have varying opinions about cell phone use in classrooms. Online bullying makes it very difficult to manage and allow students to have their phones, even after countless lessons on appropriate language and safe behaviour. Frankly, it is out of control. How do we change this though? I believe that a lot of this has to do with staff training. Many teachers in my school do not have social media, or believe that phones are used for things other than calls. If teachers can begin to see the power of students being good digital citizens, they may change their tune on cell phones.

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  7. Our school just finished a stint where one grade was not allowed to have their phones at school PERIOD. That grade, as a whole, had been having some troubles with bullying and being mean, so they gave the ‘no cell phones’ initiative a trial. They did a survey for the kids to state what they liked/didn’t like about this and there was actually a lot of positive feedback, such as being able to finish school work in the time allotted in class (and not having homework!), playing games with each other, more face-to-face interactions at school, etc.

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    • It’s such a tough balance! On one hand, I think it is important for our students to learn about being responsible digital citizens at school under close supervision, but on the other hand, I much prefer to have my students free of distractions during class time. Either way, I think it is an important conversation to have with students and parents.

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