Cell Phones in School

Jack Lange, Writer

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In recent years cell phone use has become an epidemic in schools. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, almost 90% of US teenagers own a cellphone and 73% of those are smartphones. A daily struggle in school for teachers is balancing the line between utilizing the technology that will influence kids’ lives and managing the major distraction that cellphones can cause. Waterford High School’s administrators said that the majority of issues they deal with regarding cell phone use come from the ninth graders, who are making a hard transition from “off and away during the day” in middle school to the “Bring Your Own Device” policy that the high school has adopted. They deal with at least one cell phone issue a day from students mistreating their new freedoms.

 

As the rise of cellphones takes over schools, WHS teachers are being encouraged to adopt their own policies to integrate or ban cellphones in the classroom. Mr. Silvestri, an Honors 9th grade English teacher, says that students have a hard time figuring out when to use phones effectively in school, and that this is what leads to most of the problems he has with phones. Cellphones can be a great tool for emailing teachers and keeping track of assignments, but students fail to realize how much of a distraction it is. To drive this point home with his students, Mr. Silvestri set up an experiment. He allowed students to listen to music while reading for 15 minutes, then record the number of pages they read, then had them read for another 15 minutes without music. When reading without music all of the students read significantly more pages than when they read with music on. Mr. Silvestri, however, doesn’t want students to feel like he hates phones and says that he often uses them in class as efficient dictionaries and to complete other small assignments.

 

Furthermore, Mr. Collins, another English teacher, was a driving force in the new English department cell phone policy. In recent classes he has observed just how much of a distraction phones can be. Mr. Collins says that students are trained to be constantly staring at their phones, and this can cause issues during class time. After years of trying to work with cell phones by displaying colors on the board to signify when a good time to use them would be, he has finally come to a conclusion: the best way to take care of phones is to not use them in class. Consequences for breaking this rule include “cell phone jail,” emails home, office referrals, and talks with administration. Since adopting the new policy Mr. Collins has seen a general improvement in the classroom in the form of more organized students and more interaction between students about the topic they are discussing. The biggest factor in his decision to adopt a new policy was the failure of students to internalize why a time was good to use a cell phone and conversely, why a time would not be good to use their phone.

 

Mr. Silvestri mentioned the difference in opinions on cell phones between teachers and administrators. Administrators would love to see cell phones used effectively in schools and prepare students for a technology filled future, meanwhile teachers often see cell phones more negatively because they distract from lessons. Overall, teachers and administrators both have a love/hate relationship with cell phones, knowing their potential to be both a great learning tool, and a highly effective distraction.

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About the Writer
Jack Lange, Supreme Chancellor of Website Design

Jack Lange: A sophomore at Waterford High School, he runs cross country in the fall and wrestles in the winter. He enjoys making low quality home movies and is tied up in several projects. An avid reader, his favorite genres are sci-fi and dystopian novels. Coming from a large family, he is the third of four kids with one other high school sibling. A rookie in journalism, he is just trying to learn the ropes and write as well as he can.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Cell Phones in School”

  1. Teresa Maxson on October 9th, 2018 7:56 am

    Jack,
    Good article. I think it shows that there is not a simple solution. Teachers need to help students (especially Ninth Graders) develop good habits regarding the use of their phones. That means setting limits and enforcing them.
    While Mr. Collins has eliminated the problem of cell phone distraction, he hasn’t really helped his students develop their ability to discriminate when the cell phone can be a useful tool in their studies.
    I would say the use of cell phones in class should be carefully monitored with a goal of teaching students when and how their use is appropriate.

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