The Great Debate: Cell Phones in Class

West High students always pay attention in class- not always to the teacher or the content, but to the cell phone in their pocket or purse.  Some teachers complain about phones, but others allow them. Are phones a learning tool or a distraction?

When our parents were in high school, they didn’t have cell phones. They didn’t have personal computers or anything close to the technology we have today. Now students have more resources than their parents ever could have wished for. They have computers, tablets, phones etc.

Schools have used most of these devices to their advantage as well. Computers have become a very useful and important tool in modern education and they are in nearly every public school in the country. Teachers use them for lesson plans, grading, or just looking up general information for their classes. Students use computers for searching up information for school projects, contacting teachers, looking up homework, etc.

Tablets are working their way in as well. Some schools are shifting to giving students tablets instead of small computers. They’re easier to carry and more compact and can do nearly the same things computers can. There is one tool schools have not started utilizing and that’s the smartphone. Nearly every student has a smartphone. It is recorded that around 94 percent of students use cell phones in the classroom. Now that’s not just for texting, it is also for learning purposes. Chelsea Dorris, a Junior at UAA says, “Smart phones are like mini computers. They’re easier for students to carry around, they’re able to carry them around in their pockets, there’s also apps that help you in class like a math tutor app, dictionary app and a lot more.”

She also stated, “Cell phones have become a necessary tool for society so we should start utilizing them.” So why not allow them? If people think that phones are a tool and not just a distraction to talk to people why not permit them to help students and teachers?

One reason most people think of why phones shouldn’t be allowed is the easy distraction of texting. That’s not always true though. One student has something to say about students texting in the classroom. “Everybody that you would text is already in class with you or is in school too so it’s kind of pointless to text them,” says Josh Smith, 9th grader at West.

Another reason for letting students use their cell phones in the classroom is that they will be able to use them in the real world. So if they can use them in the real world to look up information or research something important at work, why not get students ready for that now? School is like a job. You have to multitask everyday to be successful and tools are used to accomplish those tasks.

Sloan Dorris, an aircraft mechanic for Fed Ex commented about how his phone helps him at work. “It allows me to take pictures of things that I find broken, I can email them to the leads and they can put them on the web so the Engineers can see them,” he says.

Some teachers at West already allow the use of cell phones. Not all of the time, never when they are lecturing or up teaching, but a lot of teachers don’t mind students using their phones to research or complete assignments for work.

Some teachers even allow students to listen to music while they work because they say it helps focus the student. Not all teachers have net books in their classroom or have a chance to get to a computer lab, so they allow students to search up information on their phones.

Cell phones in the classroom can be useful and they can also be a distraction. It all is up to teachers anyways as it is now so why not change the rule? That is all up to the administrators. The best way to get the rule changed, whether you’re a teacher or a student, would be to write letters explaining your thoughts and how cell phones would better the learning experience in classroom.