Mobile phone use in schools

The use of mobile phones in schools has become a controversial topic debated by students, parents, teachers and authorities.

Photograph of a phone cage used for storing students' phones during school hours
A phone cage used for keeping students' phones away from them during school hours

People who support the use of mobile phones believe that these phones are useful for safety, allowing children to communicate with their parents and guardians, and teaching children how to deal with new media properly as early as possible. In addition, people suggest that schools should adapt to the current technological landscape where mobile phones allow access to vast amounts of information, rendering the need to memorize facts obsolete, allowing schools to shift their focus from imparting knowledge to emphasizing critical thinking skills and fostering the development of essential personal qualities.

Opponents of students using mobile phones during school believe that mobile phones are the main source of declining mental health among adolescents, hampering social development and enabling cyberbullying. In the classroom, phones can be a constant disruption and may be used inappropriately such as by cheating on tests, taking inappropriate photographs,[1] and playing mobile games. Rather than paying attention to teachers, students are spending more time absorbed in their phones. In 2023, the United States surgeon general issued an advisory warning that social media can carry “a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.”

To prevent distractions caused by mobile phones, many schools have implemented policies that restrict students from using their phones during school hours. The company Yondr, for example, pioneered the concept of phone-free schools with a lockable pouch product that students place their phones in at the start of each school day, allowing them to experience the focus, creativity, and relief that comes from a phone-free learning environment. Some administrators have attempted cell phone jamming, but this practice is illegal in certain jurisdictions. The software can be used in order to monitor and restrict phone usage to reduce distractions and prevent unproductive use. However, these methods of regulation raise concerns about privacy violation and abuse of power.[2][3]

Studies Edit

A 2015 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior demonstrated that among undergraduate students total usage of mobile phones, measured in number of minutes per day and not limited to school time, was "a significant and negative predictor of college students' academic performance, objectively measured as cumulative GPA."[4] Moreover, the abundant use of mobile technology among young people largely explains the inadequate use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in both personal and school environments. Consequently, actions have been taken that contribute to more responsible use of this type of technology in students' personal, school, and social lives.[5]

In 2015, Dakota Lawson and Bruce B. Henderson performed a study to examine the relationship between mobile phone use in class and information comprehension. The study involved 120 students from an introductory psychology course, mostly first-year students. The result showed that students who were texting in the class had significantly lower test scores even when the material that was presented was simple: mobile phone use in class impairs students' comprehension and performance. This study was performed after several similar studies in the past and corroborated their results.[6]

Furthermore, researchers Julia Irwin and Natasha Gupta of Macquarie University performed an experiment in 2016 testing the effect of Facebook-related distractions in the classroom. The researchers found that students who were interested in the subject material and the way it was presented were less likely to be distracted by Facebook. However, the students with access to phones still performed poorer than students that were not allowed access to cell phones during the lecture.[7]

A 2017 collective study, published by Applied Cognitive Psychology, indicated that college students retained less knowledge when allowed to use or possess a cell phone during lectures. During the experiment, students who were not allowed access to a cell phone tested better than those who had access to cell phones.[8]

Despite the numerous drawbacks that come with the use of cell phones in classrooms, there are benefits to having them available in a school setting. In 2017, Dr. James Derounian conducted a study involving a hundred participants at the University of Gloucestershire. His study revealed that 45% of students believe that the use of phones in classrooms supports their education. One of the most commonly mentioned ways that phones provided such academic support was digital access to textbooks. The ability to access scholarly material on mobile devices allowed students to engage more deeply with the information presented. Still, Derounian mentioned that there could be "an element of social desirability conveyed in the student views given."[9]

An article by Emma Henderson, a journalist for the United Kingdom (UK) publication The Independent, describes phantom vibrations caused by "learned bodily behavior," where the part of the body to which the phone is closest becomes very sensitive. As a result, even the slightest vibrations can cause a person to believe that the phone has vibrated when, in reality, it has not. These are known as phantom vibrations. Nine out of ten people claimed to have felt these phantom vibrations in their pockets, raising serious concerns about the overuse of cell phones and the resulting dependency that people develop. Therefore, breaking the habit of frequently checking one's phone can not only be beneficial for students but also convey more respect towards the professors and teachers whose lectures are constantly interrupted by cellular distractions.[10]

Regulations by country Edit

Australia Edit

In Australian schools, mobile phones are advised to be used only in case of calls to parents or guardians and that only if the parent or guardian allows the phone to be used to during school activities such as school excursions, camps and extra-curricular activities at school.

Mobile phones with cameras are restricted within school premises while entirely banned within certain sections such as changing rooms, bathrooms, gyms and swimming pools. They are only allowed to film or take photographs of people only with their signed permission or, if the person is under eighteen,[11] to have a parent or guardian to give a sign permission note allowing for these actions. If a student is found with a mobile phone or devices within these areas, they will be confiscated; and, depending on the situation, charges or consequences will be given.

Mobile phones are not allowed to be used for sending harassing or threatening messages. If a student does commit such an act, higher authorities will become involved, including the police since this being a violation of privacy and harassment. Due to bullying, privacy and harassment issues being a major issue in Australia, if a student or teacher does break this law, it may leave them with a criminal record, leaving them at a disadvantage in the future.

Mobile phones are discouraged in terms of their use within the classroom unless they can be appropriately incorporated into the learning environment. Former Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, stated in an ABC news article that the policy was intended to "ensure mobile phones and other smart devices complement students' learning".[12]

Australian educational institutes have been divided on whether phones should be completely banned in classrooms or only allowed for certain amounts of time during school hours. Since 2019, the New South Wales government has banned phones completely from its primary schools. In a public statement justifying the policy, Berejiklian declared that the ban would encourage children to avoid using technology that could "upset them or make them feel uncomfortable". From 2020 onwards, the Victorian Department of Education has similarly barred the use of mobile phones in all public schools, both primary and secondary.[13]

The reason for banning phones is to stop bullying both online and physically and to remove distractions from the classrooms. "Mobile phones, unfortunately, are not only distracting but also causing stress for young children—and we can't have that continue," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Seven's Sunrise.[14] This will be implemented by removing students’ access to phones during the day unless a parent or guardian requests that the student needs to use it. The teacher will always have the phone kept with him somewhere where the student is still able to access it before and after school.

China Edit

Ever since November 2018, all primary and secondary schools in China's Shandong province have banned the use of mobile phones in classrooms.[15] In February 2021, China announced that children would be banned from using mobile phones in schools unless they have written parental consent.[16]

France Edit

Mobile phones are allowed in the school setting at any age. The only thing that is enforced is that work needs to be completed first before phones are used. They are requested to stay in students bags but as soon as work is completed they can use them whenever.

Greece Edit

It is completely allowed by law to use mobile phones by students in school as long as their work is done first. This includes calls, texting, or any kind of camera use. Students must switch off their mobile phones or set to silent mode and keep them in their bags until their work is done and then they can use them when they please.[17][18][19]

Malaysia Edit

For schools under the Malaysian Ministry of Education, it is a disciplinary offence for students to bring their phones to school as well as to the dormitories of boarding schools.[20] Students are expected to use the school's public phones or borrow a teacher's mobile phone in the case of an emergency.[20] Phones brought to school will be confiscated and the parents of the students who brought the phones will be notified to retrieve the phones.[20] If the student is a first-time offender, a warning will be issued. The student and their parents will also have to sign a letter of undertaking (Malay: surat aku janji, lit.'I promise letter') in which the student promises not to bring their phone to school again.[20] If the student is a repeating offender, they will be restricted from using school or dormitory facilities or will be excluded from school programs or activities.[20]

Turkmenistan Edit

Since 2020, all secondary schools in Turkmenistan have banned the use of mobile phones during lessons in order to increase the productivity of the educational process. The ban applies not only to school children, but also to teachers: now, during the lessons, they must put their phones on silent mode. Pupils can only use phones outside the school.[21]

United Kingdom Edit

In the UK, a survey showed that there were no mobile phone bans in schools in 2001 but by 2007, 50% of schools had banned mobile phones during the school day. This number increased to 98% by 2012. These bans were implemented by either forbidding students from bringing phones onto school premises or by making students hand their phones in at the beginning of the day.[22] According to a study by the London School of Economics, students' academic performance improved when policies were implemented to ban cell phone usage in schools. This ban not only helped students score higher on exams but also reduced the students' temptation to use cell phones for non-scholarly purposes.[23]

Secondary schools are introducing new, strict laws on mobile phones where students under sixteen years of age will have to put their phones away for the entire day after scientific evidence has demonstrated that students become more sociable, alert and active in the school environment without them.[24] Students place their phones inside a registered locker when they arrive at school and are only allowed to retrieve them once school has finished. With this happening, schools have found a positive impact on the students: more students are active outside, along with greater numbers attending clubs and social events. Nick Gibb told The Times, "I believe very strongly that children should be limiting their own [phone] use at home. Every hour spent online and on a smartphone is an hour less talking to family, and it's an hour less exercise and it's an hour less sleep. And of course, it is a lack of sleep that research is showing can have a damaging effect on a child's mental health."[25]

The schools did note that the positive impact was greater for students under the age of eleven rather than in older students. In fact, it was shown that older students actually suffered from a restricted use of learning platforms on their phones such as educational apps assisting in studying or learning skills.[26] Students that were caught with their mobile phones between the school time period were given punishments such as detention, expulsion or warnings. In doing so, children have been taught to limit the amount of time they spend online and focus more on their school lives along with other social activities. Nevertheless, people in England have argued against this. Patsy Kane has stated, "There's a fantastic range of apps now for revision—and the students are really motivated to use them."[27]

United States Edit

In the past, some United States schools installed mobile phone jammers to prevent cell phones from working on campuses.[28] However, the sale and use of jammers is illegal in the US under the Federal Communications Act of 1934, because jammers cut off 9-1-1 calls and can disrupt air navigation if they are used near airports. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) became stricter in enforcing the ban on jammers.[29] Mt. Spokane High School in Washington state once installed a jammer to prevent students from calling and text-messaging but removed the device after it decided that it was "probably not legal" under federal law.[30] In 2015, a Florida science teacher received a five-day unpaid suspension for installing a jammer in his classroom.[31]

In 2005, the New York City Department of Education imposed a citywide ban on mobile phones in public schools.[32] However, according to The New York Times, the ban was "inconsistently enforced, with some schools allowing students to carry phones as long as staff members [did] not hear or see them, and other schools—particularly those with metal detectors at the doors—maintaining a strict ban."[32] The ban was unpopular among parents as well because it impeded communication between them and their children.[32] In March 2015, the citywide ban was lifted,[33] with Mayor Bill de Blasio fulfilling a campaign promise.[32] Under the new policy, school principals in consultation with teachers and parents may set rules on use and storage of mobile phones during instructional time and lunch breaks.[33][32] While the default rule is that phones must remain hidden, principals may also elect to "require students to store phones in backpacks or other designated places, allow the use of phones during lunch, or allow phones to be used for instructional purposes."[32] De Blasio said that the policy shift would allow parents to stay in better touch with their children, especially in case of an emergency. The New York City Schools Chancellor, Carmen Fariña, supported this policy by noting that the change means that students in schools with metal detectors would no longer have to pay outside vendors to store phones for them during the school day.[33]

When asked which type of phone-restriction policy they prefer, students tended to support the side that grants them the opportunity to bring mobile phones onto the school campus, arguing that phones allow them to reach their parents if any problem occurs. In response to the issue of parent-student communication, parents also argue that there is not a replacement for mobile phones and therefore that phones are an essential device for students to have accessible, raising concerns about a child in danger or not feeling safe not being able to contact a parent and receive assistance. Parents also believe that giving a child a phone teaches responsibility.[34] A boarding school in Massachusetts banned the use of smart phones, but not digital cameras and laptops, and handed out light phones for basic call and texting.[35]

Theft of mobile phones is another concern in some schools. In 2012, following an undercover investigation, thirteen juvenile students in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, were arrested and charged with running a cell-phone-theft ring that resulted in the theft of several thousand dollars worth of mobile phones, tablets, and other electronics.[36]

An increasing number of schools are now allowing the use of cell phones as learning tools.[37] However, the collective use of cell phones in schools poses other technological challenges. Some schools reported that allowing all students to use cell phones at the same time slows down school bandwidth speeds, and hence some schools have blocked phones from accessing the school Wi-Fi.[38]

Phone use in schools is not just an issue for students and teachers but also for other employees of educational institutions. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, while no state bans all mobile phone use for all drivers, twenty states and the District of Columbia prohibit school bus drivers from using mobile phones.[39] School bus drivers have been fired or suspended for using their phones or text-messaging while driving.[40][41]

In Utah, a bill proposed to ban the use of mobile phones in classrooms,[42] but never implemented.[43]

Messaging applications Edit

Cellphone applications have been created to support the use of phones in school environments. As of February 2018, about 80,000 applications are available for teacher use.[44] A variety of messaging apps provide communication for student-to-student relationships as well as teacher-to-student communication. Some popular apps for both students, teachers, and parents are Remind and ClassDojo. About 72% of top-selling education apps on iOS are for preschoolers and elementary school students.[45] These apps offer many different services such as language translation, scheduled reminders and messages to parents.

The app Remind is another way for teachers to communicate with parents and school administration. This app not only allows teachers to send out scheduled text messages to parents but also provides a class blog for teachers to share upcoming due dates, tests and quizzes, and other class information.

Another app that allows students to communicate with one another is GroupMe. GroupMe allows students to communicate in a group-chat format through Wi-Fi instead of using cellular data. Even some college-aged students use this app for sharing course information.[46]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Essex, Nathan L. (2013). The 200 Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions for Educators. Simon and Schuster. pp. 64–66. ISBN 978-1-62087-520-9.
  2. ^ Magid, Larry (April 14, 2016). "School Software Walks The Line Between Safety Monitor And 'Parent Over Shoulder'". Forbes. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  3. ^ Cook, Henrietta (July 16, 2017). "How schools are tracking students using their mobile phones". The Age. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  4. ^ Lepp, Andrew; Barkley, Jacob E; Karpinski, Aryn C. (February 19, 2015). "The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students". SAGE Open. 5 (1): 215824401557316. doi:10.1177/2158244015573169.
  5. ^ Rodríguez-Gómez, David; Castro, Diego; Meneses, Julio (July 1, 2018). "Problematic uses of ICTs among young people in their personal and school life" (PDF). Comunicar. 26 (56): 91–100. doi:10.3916/c56-2018-09.
  6. ^ Lawson, Dakota; Henderson, Bruce B. (3 July 2015). "The Costs of Texting in the Classroom". College Teaching. 63 (3): 119–124. doi:10.1080/87567555.2015.1019826. ISSN 8756-7555. S2CID 141577071.
  7. ^ Gupta, Natasha; Irwin, Julia D. (February 2016). "In-class distractions: The role of Facebook and the primary learning task". Computers in Human Behavior. 55B: 1165–1178. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.10.022.
  8. ^ Lee, Seungyeon; Kim, Myeong W.; McDonough, Ian M.; Mendoza, Jessica S.; Kim, Min Sung (April 17, 2017). "The Effects of Cell Phone Use and Emotion‐regulation Style on College Students' Learning". Applied Cognitive Psychology. 31 (3): 360–366. doi:10.1002/acp.3323.
  9. ^ Derounian, James Garo (December 17, 2017). "Mobiles in class?" (PDF). Active Learning in Higher Education. 21 (2): 142–153. doi:10.1177/1469787417745214. S2CID 149127592.
  10. ^ Henderson, Emma (January 10, 2016). "PHANTOM VIBRATION SYNDROME: UP TO 90 PER CENT OF PEOPLE SUFFER PHENOMENON WHILE MOBILE PHONE IS IN POCKET". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2022-05-15. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  11. ^ "Students Using Mobile Phones". Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  12. ^ McKinnell, Jamie; Tiller, Stephanie (2018-12-13). "Mobile phones will be banned in NSW primary schools from next year". ABC News. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  13. ^ "Mobile Phones - Student Use". SchoolsVic. 12 Apr 2022. Archived from the original on 1 Feb 2023. Retrieved 18 Aug 2023.
  14. ^ "Mobile phones banned from NSW primary schools". SBS News. Retrieved April 3, 2019.
  15. ^ "China bans mobile phones in classrooms". AsiaOne. 10 October 2018. Archived from the original on October 13, 2018. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  16. ^ "China bans children from using mobile phones at school". BBC News. 2021-02-02. Retrieved 2023-04-25.
  17. ^ "Law 2472/1997 Government Gazette 50 A'/10.04.1997" (PDF). Hellenic Data Protection Authority (HDPA). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help) Protection of Individuals with regard to the Processing of Personal Data (in English)
  18. ^ "Law 3471/2006 Government Gazette 133 A'/28.06.2006" (PDF). Hellenic Authority for Communication Security and Privacy (ADAE). {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help) Protection of personal data and privacy in the electronic telecommunications sector and amendment of law 2472/1997 (in English)
  19. ^ Giannakakis, Ioannis; Vitoratos, Stefanos (October 10, 2019). "Greece cyber security laws and regulations". Global Legal Group (ICLG) UK, The International Corporate Legal Guides and International Business Reports. Retrieved January 1, 2020. Contributing firm: G+P Law Firm Athens, Greece, (in English)
  21. ^ В школах Туркменистана запретили мобильные телефоны
  22. ^ Doward, Jamie (May 17, 2015). "Schools that ban mobile phones see better academic results". The Guardian. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  23. ^ Kottasova, Ivana (May 18, 2015). "Kids do a lot better when schools ban smartphones". CNN Business. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  24. ^ Hymas, Charles (June 24, 2018). "Secondary schools are introducing strict new bans on mobile phones". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  25. ^ "Mobile phones 'should be banned from schools', minister says". The Independent. 2019-02-02. Archived from the original on 2022-05-15. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  26. ^ Corbett, Stephen. "No, mobile phones should not be banned in UK schools". The Conversation. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  27. ^ Mason, Chris (2019-02-02). "Ban phones in schools, says minister". BBC. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  28. ^ Bell, Mary Ann; Weimar, Holly; Van Roekel, James (2013). School Librarians and the Technology Department: A Practical Guide to Successful Collaboration. ABC-CLIO. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-58683-540-8.
  29. ^ Koebler, Jason (October 17, 2012). "FCC Cracks Down on Cell Phone 'Jammers'". U.S. News. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  30. ^ "School scraps cell phone jammer program". KHQ Q6. March 10, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  31. ^ "Teacher suspended for jamming students' cellphones". abc 7 Chicago. June 4, 2015. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  32. ^ a b c d e f Taylor, Kate (January 6, 2015). "Ban on Cellphones in New York City Schools to Be Lifted". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  33. ^ a b c Blau, Edgar Sandoval, Dale Eisinger, Reuven. "Department of Education lifts ban on cell phones in New York City schools". Retrieved April 19, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  34. ^ "Future for cell phones in classrooms?". UPI. February 20, 2009. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  35. ^ "This School Took Away Smartphones. The Kids Don't Mind". Retrieved 2022-12-04.
  36. ^ Stamm, Dan (January 11, 2012). "High School Cell Phone Theft Ring Busted". NBC 10 Philadelphia. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  37. ^ Higgins, Josh (August 7, 2013). "More schools use cellphones as learning tools". USA Today. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  38. ^ Harris, Elizabeth A. (January 13, 2016). "Bronx Science Bans Cellphones From Wi-Fi as Students Devour It". The New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  39. ^ "Distracted Driving". Governors Highway Safety Association. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  40. ^ Solis, Steph (October 28, 2015). "School bus driver fired for speeding, texting". App. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  41. ^ "School Bus Driver Suspended After Cellphone Video Shows Her Texting". ABC News. September 20, 2013. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  42. ^ "Utah legislation proposes statewide cellphone ban in schools". Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  43. ^ "Utah won't ban cellphones in classrooms. Here's why". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  44. ^ "13 of the Best Apps for High School Students". The Tech Edvocate. 2018-02-06. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  45. ^ "Technology in the Classroom: The Good and Bad". HuffPost. 2013-01-17. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  46. ^ "GroupMe - App Review". 2016-03-16. Retrieved April 19, 2019.

External links Edit