Should elementary and middle schoolers be allowed to have cell phones?

Post by Connor B
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Cell phones increase in popularity

As we were growing up, cell phones began to grow more popular. People began to use cell phones for work, information, emergencies and entertainment. We would begin to see cell phones used throughout the household, as new technology improved cell phones and gave them more uses. Smartphones were also beginning to be made, for example the Simon Personal Communicator. The phone allowed people to not only call, but send and receive faxes and emails, and also had other apps like the address book or calendar. Phones like this increased the popularity of cell phones. Cell phones became a great use for many purposes.

Parents begin giving cell phones to their children

The economy began to grow after the recession, and parents had more money to spend. One thing parents spent more money on were cell phones, and they started buying cell phones for their kids. The age that a child receives a cell phone has gone further down from the past. In an article written by Dara Kerr, from CNET Magazine, she states, “Cell phone owners are getting younger and younger. According to a new study, 83 percent of middle schoolers, 39 percent of fifth-graders, and 20 percent of third-graders have a mobile device.”

Cell phones can be used for emergencies

One reason parents give children cell phones is for emergencies. When the parents give their child the cell phone they explain that they can always be contacted with it, and to dial 911 if you are ever in a life threatening situation. They also explain that if their child is ever scared, they can call or text them and they will do everything they can to help.

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Is this a good reason to have them for school? Should they really be banned in schools?

Finessa Ferrell, an author from Chalkbeat Colorado News explains that “cell phones are not the enemy.  In fact, they are so established as the safety net for families that it is not feasible to ban them from schools.” Parents give their children cell phones so their kids have something to keep them safe. Schools should not ban them because if a student has one, its something they have been using as a sense of security.

Cell phones establish a line of communication between child and parent

Parents not only will give their child a cell phone in case of emergency, but also to keep in touch with their child throughout the day. Finessa went on to later write, “Parents now pick children up when they call or text to say where they are and when they are finished with various activities.  Parents use cell phones to check on their children after school to make sure they are on buses safely headed home.

Likewise, children can use cell phones to document bullying happening on buses or to tell parents that something is happening to them on the bus.” Elementary and Middle schools both ban cell phones, even though they are a great way for a child and their parent to communicate during the day. The kid can tell their parent if they are sick, getting hurt, in trouble, or any other situation that a parent might want to know about.

Cell phones can be great learning tools

New technology allows for a variety of new uses for cell phones, one of them being for learning. Finessa not only talks about the safety of having a cell phone, but she also explains how cell phones can be great learning tools. “The point I’m trying to make here is that technology has—and should—transform the modern classroom,” she explains, “In focus groups students routinely say that the classes they find “boring” are those that look very traditional—textbooks, desks in rows, a teacher who stands at the front lecturing, the writing of things on chalk boards, workbooks and activity sheets passed out to do at home.”

Cell phones are not only a great way to learn, but they help students stay interested and involved in the class room. They allow the students to connect with the information they are given, and better retain the information for future use. Cell phones are a great tool to help a student learn.

Cell phones are not always used properly

Although cell phones can be a great tool for a student in a variety of ways, I do realize that they are not always used the way they are supposed to be.

Most schools that allow cell phones do not allow students to use cell phones in class so they can message or call their friends. They will only allow the students to use their cell phones for class related activities. The punishment is most often confiscation of the cell phone, where the penalty increases every time the rule is broken.

Students often take the risk of confiscation and text their friends in class which distracts them from the material being learned.

However Finessa explains how “students don’t magically become engaged in the lesson now that the phone “temptation” has been eliminated.” She also talks about how she “observed disengaged students play with their hair, stare into space, check their make-up a dozen times, put their heads down on the desk, ask for bathroom passes—anything to occupy their time without actually engaging in classroom learning.” Students are going to continue to distract themselves from the material whether cell phones are confiscated or not.

Cell phones should not be confiscated because they are just one way students distract themselves from learning. Finessa went on to later say, “For students who are disengaged from learning, the cell phone is not the root cause nor will its elimination—by confiscation or ban—be the solution.”

Cell phones help students keep themselves safe, communicate with their parents, and help them stayed involved and interested with the material they are given at school.

This is why I think it is a mistake to ban cell phones when they can be a great resource for a student in a variety of ways.

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