Cell Phones and Education

It has been debated for years if cell phones could be beneficial to students’ educations. Is it more of a benefit or is it more of a distraction? Students’ lives today seem to revolve around their cell phones. In fact, the average American teenage girl sends about 100 text messages a day, according to theatlantic.com. But does the cell phone really belong in classrooms?

Many teachers at West High School allow students to use their cell phones in class for certain activities such as research, or using the phone as a calculator, even though West has a “no cell phone” policy. According to the Pew Research Center’s March 2013 study 78 percent of teens own a cell phone, and 1 out of 4 of those teens use the Internet exclusively on their cell phone. Why not take advantage of all this technology?

Ms. Wilden, a Social Studies teacher at West, allows students to use their cell phones in class “as long as it’s used appropriately.” This seems to be common throughout West. Her students use their phones, tablets and even their personal laptops, to do a variety of tasks including research, calculators, homework, planners, text reminders from Ms. Wilden herself and occasionally Google Docs.

Ms. Wilden finds that students are very respectful of her phone policy. But, she does occasionally finds a student using their phone inappropriately. In the event she sees somebody using their phones inappropriately, she gives them a warning, which she says, “normally fixes the problem.” If the behavior continues she said she would confiscate the students cell phone and take it to the office, which is not common for her student’s. This confiscation procedure seems to be common at West High School though.

Stephany Lahn, a senior at West, says she uses her phone quite often in class. She even says, “it’s kind of my life line.” She also says that she is pretty good at using her phone when the time is appropriate in class, but she says she doesn’t have much of a problem getting away with using her phone inappropriately in class. As a student, she finds her phone is a very helpful research tool or dictionary when she needs it.

Not all students see cell phones as a benefit, or use it as one. In fact some students hardly ever use their cell phones for educational purposes in the classroom. Ronnie Tessier, a freshman at Service High School, says she doesn’t normally use her iPhone in class for educational purposes. When asked if she uses her phone inappropriately in class she laughed then said, “yes, I text.”  Ronnie texts in class everyday but doesn’t normally get caught by her teachers. She also stated that she doesn’t typically use her phone in class for class purposes but she does use it occasionally for research, the dictionary app or as a calculator.

Some students even use their cell phones in class to listen to music and many students claim that the music helps them concentrate. Students listen to music while taking tests, doing classwork and even homework, this is in fact the opposite. Music can bring students attention spans down by as much as 40 percent and even cause a 10 point drop in IQ, according to Peter Bregman with the Harvard Business Review Network and theatlantic.com. Even though attention is brought down by music. Students at West are often given this opportunity to listen to music in class.

Overall, cell phones in classrooms have their pros and cons. Cell phones can both be a great addition to using technology in the classroom but can also be very distracting to some students. Certain students, such as Stephany, reap the benefits of using this technology in class while other students, such as Ronnie, fail to use their phones appropriately in the classroom.