Should you allow mobile phones this school year?

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is journalist and blogger with a passion for technology and continued learning. She is currently a contributing writer for Muck Rack, Ragan and Technorati. When she isn't busy writing about the latest educational or tech trends, she loves spending time with her husband and playing video games.

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Image credit: Flickr // Intel Free Press. Image credit: Flickr // Intel Free Press.

Currently, the choice of whether to allow mobile phones in classrooms or entire schools rests in the hands of school representatives. For example, headteachers could enforce banning mobile phones in the whole facility during school hours.

Individual educators can also make that ruling for their respective classes. They might take the banning approach if they noticed a particular problem with excessive use and other measures to stop it are ineffective.

A Politician in Support of a Total Ban

Matt Hancock, the United Kingdom’s secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, supports instituting a total ban on mobile phones in the classroom, following the lead of France. He cited research indicating that the gadgets have a negative effect on working memory and fluid intelligence even if students aren’t actively using their phones.

Evidence does not suggest that the United Kingdom as a whole would take the arguably large step of banning mobile phones in every classroom throughout the region, despite Mr. Hancock’s stance.

However, in light of what he said, some Secondary schools have decided to institute bans. More specifically, students aged 11 to 16 who are attending the participating organisations have to put them in their lockers or give them to school officials at the start of the day and not get them back until classes are over.

Shiplake College, an independent school, takes a different approach. It allows students to carry their phones with them in a concealed way as long as they don’t look at them. The mere act of taking their phones out and viewing the screens between the hours of 8:15am and 5:45pm earns students detention.

Numerous other institutions immediately confiscate phones if they see students with them during school hours.

Banning Phones Helped Schools Get Better Results

According to one study, making phones off-limits in the classroom got results equivalent to a week’s worth of extra schooling and caused a 6.4 percent increase in the test scores of 16-year-olds.

After becoming aware of studies in the United Kingdom and other places around the world, Brighton College, a boarding school in Brighton, England, decided to incorporate “digital detox days” into the class schedule. They meant a total ban on “Brighton College have incorporated ‘digital detox days’ into the class schedule.”usage for people in seventh to ninth class, and limited availability of the devices for older students.

Representatives from Brighton College also hoped to encourage students to have fun in another way. They bought dozens of board games, and put them in the facility’s common rooms to urge people to use them.

Kids at the boarding school reported changes in habits, such as having more face-to-face conversations with friends and spending more time reading than they did with full access to their phones. That’s not surprising, especially since some people believe apps trigger smartphone addiction by giving people more and more reasons to get entertained via their phones instead of through other means.

The Positive Side of Smartphones

It’s worth pointing out the other side of the argument, which is that smartphones can be learning tools. Atlantic Academy (formerly the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy) is one school that allows students to use smartphones and similar kinds of technology.

Students use voice-recognition tools when searching for information on the internet, for example. Also, educators bring up how smartphones are gateways to “Most parents appreciate the ability to contact their kids if emergencies come up.”current information that’s more recent than what textbooks can provide. Although some of the most recent textbooks have information about the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote, for instance, they wouldn’t include up-to-the-minute details like the online realm does.

Moreover, students might wish to record their classes so that they can listen to the material again later and keep it fresh in their minds. That’s especially likely if a student has dyslexia or another disability that could make writing particularly difficult, but recorded lectures could also be advantageous for anyone who gets stressed by trying to listen to teachers and take accurate notes simultaneously.

Also, most parents appreciate the ability to contact their kids if emergencies come up. When schools establish mobile phone bans, it’s necessary for parents to get in touch with the school first, then relay messages to their kids. However, both Android and iPhone devices have the option of setting up priority callers that give users notifications even in the Do Not Disturb mode.

If schools allowed learners to use phones, but only after putting all notifications on silent and setting one emergency contact as a priority individual, distractions in the classroom would likely go down while keeping urgent communications streamlined.

Two Sides of the Argument

With the above in mind, it’s possible to see the reasoning behind both courses of action. If mobile phones continually cause distractions and make kids not want to engage with their peers, banning them is understandable.

Conversely, when used in specific ways, mobile phones can enhance the learning process. It’s important to consider the pros and cons before making any decisions on the matter.

How will you tackle the issue this coming school year?

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