Cellphones should be allowed in classrooms

Elisa Moraes Liu, News Editor

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For students attending a school located in the heart of Silicon Valley, technology is an integral part of their lives—after all, it’s 2019. Classrooms are equipped with SmartBoards, Apple TVs and Macbooks. Students all have Chromebooks, and Schoology plays a large role in most classes. Phones, too, are valuable tools that allow for facilitated communications as they are alternative approaches to learning and access to a wide variety of resources. Despite recent debates over banning cellphones in classrooms, doing so would hinder progress in schools.

Cellphones serve as valuable tools for communication. Schoology, where classroom reminders are frequently posted, can be easily accessed with only a few swipes. School-wide posts, such as student activities updates, provide students with valuable information that they might otherwise miss. Banning phones will reduce access to these posts during school hours, and students might forget that they need to pick up their homecoming shirts or that the library will be closed for a staff meeting.Students who prefer to use apps such as Reminders or Google Calendar to track their assignments and commitments would consequently be severely disadvantaged through the institution of a cellphone ban.

In a school as large as Gunn, phones play an important role in communication with friends. If  students want to find each other during lunch or ask for a ride after school, they can simply dial up a friend. Without phones, this communication is greatly limited, and students won’t be able to contact acquaintances across campus as easily.

Cellphones are also important to keep track of the school schedule. With the notorious “alternate schedule” appearing periodically, it can be confusing for students to know the schedule. Even seniors frequently do not have a grasp on the schedule and need to check the legendary “GunnApp” to figure out if they have Spanish or math class next. The frequent use of alternate schedules prevents us from having a set schedule written down.

Interactive activities, such as Kahoot or Quizlet Live, also rely on access to cellphones. These tools allow for hands-on learning, where students are able to apply their knowledge in a fun activity that can enhance their engagement and motivation. Without cellphones, the ability to effectively use tools that have been designed for interactive classroom experiences is limited.

Allowing phones in schools helps to prepare students for the future. Upon graduation, students will be left to navigate the world on their own. They must use high school years to develop skills needed to succeed, which includes the self-control to not be distracted by cellphones. By banning phones, schools hinder valuable development which occurs during the teenage years; high school is a time for students to build their real world skills, and self-control is a major one. Schools must help teach students responsibility, and this includes the appropriate usage of phones. If schools do not help students learn responsibility, it is likely they will not know what to do in a less forgiving real world environment, such as future places of employment.

Phones cannot simply be replaced by Chromebooks or personal computers. While students can also access features such as Kahoot, Google Calendar or Schoology on a computer, doing so is much less convenient. Phones are hand-held devices that are created for convenient usage of these features; banning them forces us to backtrack technologically. Additionally, if we are banning phones in order to remove distractions, we can not ignore that computers can similarly distract students. Students can just as easily access social media or virtual games using their computers.

While cellphones can be distracting, it should be up to the teachers to decide the cellphone policy in their classrooms. Requiring school-wide limitations on cellphone use only serves to reduce the independence of teaching styles in classrooms.

As technology move forward, schools cannot stay with the old ways. Banning cellphones keeps us in the past. It is impossible to prevent students from being distracted and while phones are potential distractions, they are a valuable tool that students rely on. Schools must embrace the fact that phones have become an important part of students’ daily lives, and should work to integrate phones into the learning system.