Cellphones should be banned in classrooms


Photo by Melissa Ding

On June 29, 2007, Apple released the iPhone, sparking a universal technological revolution. According to the Pew Re- search Center, 95% of United States high schoolers have access to a smartphone and, according to the Atlantic, 94% of them use their cellphones in class. Gunn should require every classroom to set up cellphone pockets to decrease distractions and cyberbullying, while ensuring that cellphones are only used for educational purposes.

Cellphones have become a major dis- traction in classrooms, not only to the students using them, but to those around them. Due to their small size, smartphones are very easy to hide and use during lectures. According to the Journal of Media Education, students use their phones an average of 11 times each school day. Twenty percent of this time goes toward unrelated activities, which might include sending texts, checking Instagram or making memes about their history teachers. This distracts students from listening, which hinders their ability to learn. Further, according to the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, even a silent, powered-off cellphone can cause distractions. Cellphone notifications lead to a burst of dopamine, the “happy chemical,” which your brain perceives as a re- ward. This can have pernicious effects by creating a dependence. Dopamine makes the brain reliant upon the phone to the point that its presence impacts concentration on the lecture. Students are more likely to miss or not properly absorb material when their smartphones are closer to them. Finally, removing smartphones increases test scores by 6.4%, according to the London School of Economics. At Gunn, we need to focus on the success of all students, and a cell- phone ban would help ensure not only that students aren’t distracted, but also that they are academically successful.

Beyond distractions, cellphones can be used to maliciously hurt peers. Pictures can be taken of students in compromising positions, such as sleeping in class and then posted on the internet to humiliate them. This often happens without their consent and can cause severe damage to their self-confidence. Further, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), schools with bullying like this tended to have test scores that were 3% to 6% lower than those without. The problem of cyberbullying can also extend to teachers: in 2013, the APA reported that 9% of teachers felt disrespected by their students. This can hurt their ability to effectively teach. Thus, due to cellphones’ potential to take compromising photos, teachers must ban them from the class- room to create safe, inclusive learning environments.

Some might argue that cellphones will be prevalent in adult life and can be used for educational purposes, but there are ways to allow for these benefits without the drawbacks. Cellphone pockets allow teachers to instruct their students to use cellphones when necessary. Further, constant access allows students to cheat on exams by finding answers online. US News reported in 2009 that one third of teens have used cellphones to cheat in school. This is independently a reason to ban cellphones as they give dishonest students a leg up in the classroom. Not only does this disincentivize other students from learning the material, but it also gives high grades to students who don’t deserve them and instills bad studying habits. If one can always just look up the answer, why bother learning at all? Overall, the negative effects of cellphones necessitates a ban on them, while taking them out of the cellphone pockets on occasion provides access to any necessary tools.

As technology changes and grows, we need to update our learning environments to account for it. Smartphone use in class- rooms has become increasingly prevalent; however, the use of smart- phones diminishes student learning and makes school a hostile environment for many individuals. It gives an advantage to academically dishonest students who don’t want to put their best foot forward, and leaves behind those who follow school rules. A cellphone pocket is the perfect solution to this issue. It makes it easy to take cellphones out when necessary, while letting the teacher control who has access and who does not. For Gunn to create the best possible learning environment, teachers throughout school need to require students to keep their cellphones stowed away during class. It’s time to focus on the lecture.