A familiar ringtone sounds in the classroom directing everyone’s attention to a shy student in the back row. Several years ago, this would have seemed a bit strange, but not today. A recent study showed that one in three third grade students have a cell phone. With so many students having access to technology devices, a lot of talk has gone into deciding whether to use them as learning tools or to ban them from the classroom.
Let’s think cell phones role as learning tools. Annie needs a calculator, but forgot hers. She takes out her cell phone and is able to use the calculator app on the phone. Just across the room, Johnny is trying to spell the word “similar,” so he uses the dictionary app on his phone to find the correct spelling. Mitchell, has completed all of his work early, so he decides to use the multiplication app on his phone to review multiplication facts in a fun and interactive way. These devices are causing teachers and other school officials see that cell phones give students access to resources that actually save schools money.
While cell phones may sound great, not every school district is ready to lift the cell phone ban. There are still those that have major concerns. One concern is what to do about students who do not have a cell phone. Another worry is how to make sure students are using the phone as a learning tool instead of texting and social media. Additional concerns arise with how to address when a phone is broken or stolen while at school. Certainly, the list of problems that some schools have goes on and on.
The answer isn’t clear for schools across the United States. Some schools are starting to lift the cell phone ban, but others are keeping it in place. As students pack backpacks with cell phones, the discussion of having them in the classroom will certainly continue.