Banning the Use of Phones in Schools — Is It Necessary?

The use of smartphones in schools

Phones and many other devices are an essential part of the life of most people in the world. There are countries where there are more cell phones than inhabitants. Therefore, for some years, it has been discussed whether students should take smartphones to schools and use them as an educational tool.

Previous studies had been conducted on the advantages of smartphones in the training of students. For example, emails, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, or other means have proven to be a valuable tool in the development of communication skills. Some students write, and others read and answer. They need to make the text understandable. In some cases, images are used, which means choosing the one picture that best expresses what is wanted to be transmitted among thousands out there.

Also, through a phone, you can enter the information networks and explore thousands of references about a particular topic. When used well, a smartphone becomes a valuable source of knowledge, means to investigate and complement what the student learns in class and develop homework assignments at home.

Does it mean smartphones have only benefits for students?

With all these apparent advantages come many criticisms. The communication through digital networks creates new communication codes that distort language: the development of conventional writing is weakened, and the information that circulates freely does not discriminate ages, being sometimes negative or even dangerous for the development of children and adolescents.

Jaume Sarramona, a retired professor of the University of Barcelona, adds: “There is a possibility of smartphones being used without the control of teachers, which can cause distractions within the school activity schedule, in addition to its unwanted use to harass classmates, send inadequate material, etc. Precisely the difficulty of being able to control the proper use of the tool is why its introduction in the classrooms is often rejected. The school has traditionally marginalized those elements that can disrupt educational activities as it has been the case for other technological tools.”

In addition, a critique no less important is the addictive nature of this tool that can isolate and affect the level of family relationships and reduce the time of dedication to the realization of learning activities, among other consequences. Many now can relate to the annoyance of parents or people who are having dinner or a meeting in front of a child or a young man who seems to ignore them because they are concentrated reading the Facebook feed. Also, it makes easier for students to use writing services and buy essay cheap.

The issue was again in the spotlight when the French government decided to prohibit the use of cell phones in basic education schools at the legislative level. It had been one of the promises of Emmanuel Macron, current President of France. For the Minister of Education, Jean Michel Blanquer, the law is a response to many parents, worried that their children spend hours staring at the screens of their phones and are affected by the increase in cases of harassment through the Internet.

Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, begin to evaluate the application of a similar measure. But, there are also those who are inclined to give their schools the freedom to decide. The truth is that the renewal of learning methodologies has not kept pace with how the technology evolves. When this “upgrade” happens, sooner or later, the possibilities of facilitating education processes with the use of modern technologies should be considered. In addition, the development of tablets is a matter that may influence the decision to defer the employment of phones for the time being. With tablets, you can do everything that can be done with a smartphone, except for making calls. That makes the issue of being able to control the use of gadgets less complicated.

It is not only about whether students can or cannot take their phones to schools — the topic of prohibition is much more complicated. There are also other important aspects to consider: the age from which the use of gadgets is recommended, the strategies that help schools and families to guide their good use, the effects of excessive contact with this tool, among others.

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