Schools and parents battle over cell phone bans for students

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Parents of American students and the schools their children attend are fighting over a modern issue. The question is whether students are allowed to bring mobile phones to school. According to the Associated Press (AP), educators say the handsets make it harder for children to learn because they are a major distraction.
Schools also note that some students struggle with mental and behavioral problems that they believe are exacerbated by cell phone use at school. But parents have a different opinion. They believe that with the ongoing threat of school shootings, taking a phone to school is a necessary safety measure.

School districts and parents battle over school cell phone ban

Another reason why schools are reluctant to allow phones in the classroom is that it allows students to record what really happens to them during a school day. Parents are concerned that this will leave schools with a lack of accountability as their children can use their phones to record questionable behavior from teachers and staff.

Shannon Moser, who has both an eighth and ninth classmates who attend school in Rochester, New York, says fellow parents on both sides of the political spectrum were upset when the school district began shutting down students’ cell phones. during the school day. “Everything is so politicized, so divisive,” she says. “And I think parents just have a general fear of what happens to their kids during the day.”

Not all parents feel like Mrs. Moser. Some mothers and fathers believe their children spend too much time in front of a screen and support the ban on cell phones in their children’s schools. Liz Keren-Kolb, clinical associate professor of educational technologies at the University of Michigan, said, “You still have the parents who want to have that direct line of communication and worry that their child can’t have that communication.”

Keren-Kolb also understands the other side of the equation. She says, “But I think there’s more empathy and understanding for their child to be able to put their device away so they can really focus on learning in the classroom and want that in-person experience.”

The National Center for Education Statistics noted that more than a decade ago, 90% of schools banned cell phone use, and that figure dropped to 65% for the 2015-2016 school year. By the 2019-2020 school year, 76% of schools banned handsets. Two states, California and Tennessee, have passed laws allowing schools to ban cell phones.

The Washington School District in western Pennsylvania has banned cell phones for the first time this year. Students used their handsets in the hallways and cafeteria and a teacher who works for the district said children called home in the middle of class and took calls. District Superintendent George Lammay said the ban was the right choice because it helps students learn without being distracted, and it also helps them get along with their fellow students.

Schools say phones are a distraction, while parents say they can save lives

Lammay notes that the idea behind the cell phone ban in schools is not to forbid students from contacting their families. Speaking of families, in at least one school district, complaints from parents about a cell phone ban led to the creation of new rules that both the school district and parents could live with. In Colorado’s Brush School District, phones were banned because of online bullying. But parents were upset because they wanted their kids to have access to their devices.

Under the new policy, children are allowed to carry their phones with them at all times, but they must be turned off and out of sight. It doesn’t seem like much of a solution, but in an emergency, the phones can be turned on. However, when it comes to some situations, seconds matter and while the new rules did allow children access to their phones, these students still cannot be contacted by their parents.

The only argument for banning phones from schools is that it’s a distraction that can keep kids from learning. Or is that the argument at all? Some schools may be concerned that students are recording certain interactions between teachers and students. And should cell phone bans be allowed in schools, as parents are keen to ensure they can be in contact with their children at all times? In addition, most parents would prefer that their children have the option to call 9-1-1 to get help in an emergency.

At the moment, it appears that school districts have the advantage in this argument, but in time, the parents who want to remove the cell phone ban from schools could gain control.

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