Cell Phones: Help or Hindrance in the Classroom

Mideonna Owens, Staff Writer

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Many students are allowed to use their digital devices at any given time, but there is a huge
debate regarding their use at school. Supporters of technology in the classroom say that using
laptops, tablets, and cellphones in the classroom can keep students engaged. Technology is what
students are most familiar with. Some can’t even remember a time when they didn’t have technology.  “I think that having electronics inside the classroom will change the stereotype on basic school,” says
Pamela-Joyce, a Crosstown High student. Digital devices in the classroom can also give students
and parents peace of mind. For example, if there is an emergency during school hours, students can

contact their parents immediately.

Based on my prior experience, having a digital device can assist students with finding instant answers. We
are in a “search-and learn” era, so it would be helpful to find answers quickly. Additionally, some
students may be embarrassed to ask questions, preferring to look the answer up instead of raising a hand. With
internet access at schools, students can access a wider variety of sources of information. They can learn other languages, teach themselves how to draw or knit, and even play chess.  If we didn’t have access to any digital devices how would we be able to watch informational videos? “Electronic devices give us a chance to watch instant videos,” says Pamela-Joyce.
Did you know social media can have a positive impact on kids in school?  Based on my experience, social media learning is a good way for students to share information, thoughts, and ideas on different topics. Quieter students may branch out and connect with others on social media, preferring this method of meeting new people. Finding ways to effectively utilize digital devices in the classroom provides teachers with an opportunity to advance their skillset and grow with their students.
Now that you know the advantages of digital devices in the classroom, let’s dive into the negative impacts. There are concerns from the EPA regarding long-term exposure to wireless devices and computer screens. There is no direct evidence, however, supporting this concern. If students use their devices frequently at home, additional screen time could be harmful.  Additionally, while some sites are prohibited at school, students still may find inappropriate websites. There are also times students won’t access monitoring networks. “At my school we don’t log

into the WiFi because the school can see everything we are doing,” said a student from Whitehaven High School.  The pressure to get on social media or text a friend is high for many students.  Some students may only focus on their social life instead of the lesson and assigned school work. Many people think that too much time on the phone can disconnect students from reality. Students may not know how to handle a face-to-face conversation. Some wouldn’t even want to be off their phones. “Many kids are distracted at dinner tables from a cell phone, so how

will they function in the classroom,” said a Crosstown High parent. Digital devices in the classroom could lead to an even greater disconnect.

The overarching question that has been surfacing is whether or not schools should permit digital devices.  I think students should be taught to use devices appropriately, specifically, when and when not to use the cell phones. They also should learn how to determine good sources of scholarly information online. Today some school districts have seen great improvements by allowing digital devices in the classroom. If electronic devices are allowed everywhere, however, there should be guidelines and rules.