Mobile phone use in schools

The use of mobile phones in school settings or environments is a topic of debate. Supporting parents believe that cell phones address their safety concerns by enabling them to communicate with their children. Teachers and administrators opposed to mobile phone usage in schools believe that they cause disruption, and may be used for malicious purposes such as cheating on tests or taking inappropriate photographs.[1]



A study of a group of undergraduate students, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior in 2015, found that among undergraduate students, total mobile-phone use (measured in number of minutes per day, not limited to school time) was "a significant and negative predictor of college students' academic performance, objectively measured as cumulative GPA." The study controlled for various other factors.[2]

A 2015 study by the London School of Economics, conducted in four cities of England, found that test scores increased by more than 6% in schools which banned cell phones.[3]


In the United Kingdom, no schools banned mobile phones in 2001. However, by 2007, 50% of the schools had banned these devices, and by 2012, this number had increased to 98%.[4] According to CNN Money, students' academic skills reflected improvement when cell phone policies were implemented to bad cell phone use in schools. Schools banning students from carrying phones helped students score higher on exams and reduced the students' temptations to use cell phones for non-scholarly purposes.[5]

United StatesEdit

In the past, some U.S. schools have installed mobile phone jammers to prevent mobile phones from working on campuses.[6] The sale and use of jammers is illegal in the U.S. under the federal Communications Act of 1934, because jammers cut off 9-1-1 calls and can disrupt air navigation near airports, and in 2012 the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) stepped up enforcement of the law.[7] Mt. Spokane High School in Washington state at one point installed a jammer in school to prevent students from calling and text-messaging, but removed the device after determining that it was "probably not legal" under federal law.[8] In 2015, one Florida science teacher received a five-day unpaid suspension for installing a jammer in his classroom.[9]

In 2005, the New York City Department of Education imposed a citywide ban on mobile phones in public schools.[10] According to the New York Times, the ban was "inconsistently enforced, with some schools allowing students to carry phones as long as staff members do not hear or see them, and other schools—particularly those with metal detectors at the doors—maintaining a strict ban. Outside those schools, small businesses have sprung up that allow students to park their phones inside a truck for a dollar a day."[10] The ban was unpopular among parents because it impeded communication with children.[10] In March 2015, the citywide ban was lifted,[11] fulfilling a campaign promise made by Mayor Bill de Blasio.[10] 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.[10][11] The default rule would be that phones would be required to remain hidden, but principles could also choose to "require students to store phones in backpacks or in a designated place; allow use of phones during lunch or in designated areas; or allow phones to be used for instructional purposes".[10] De Blasio said that the policy shift would allow to parents stay in better touch with their children, particularly in emergencies, especially in case of an emergency, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña noted that the change means that students in schools with metal detector would no longer have to pay outside vendors to store phones for them during the school day.[11]

Theft of mobile phones is a concern in some schools. For example, in the Wichita School District (USD 259) public schools, 80 cases of theft of cell phones were reported in 2014.[12] In 2012, following an undercover investigation, thirteen students in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, all juveniles, 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.[13]

An increasing number of schools are now allowing use of cell phones as learning tools.[14] However, the use of cell phones in schools is challenging. Some schools reported allowing all students to use cell phones at the same time slows down school bandwidth speeds.[15]

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, while no state bans all mobile-phone use for all drivers, 20 states and the District of Columbia prohibit school bus drivers from using mobile phones.[16] School bus drivers have been fired or suspended for using the phone or text-messaging while driving.[17][18][19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Nathan L. Essex (8 January 2013). The 200 Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions for Educators. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. pp. 64–66. ISBN 978-1-62087-520-9. 
  2. ^ Andrew Lepp; Jacob E. Barkley; Aryn C. Karpinski. "The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students". Computers in Human Behavior. 31 (1): 343–350. doi:10.1177/2158244015573169. 
  3. ^ "Mobile phone bans 'improve school exam results'". BBC News. 17 May 2015. 
  4. ^ Jamie Doward (16 May 2015). "Schools that ban mobile phones see better academic results". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ Ivana Kottasova (May 18, 2015). "Kids do a lot better when schools ban smartphones". CNNMoney (London). Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  6. ^ Mary Ann Bell; Holly Weimar; James Van Roekel (23 May 2013). School Librarians and the Technology Department: A Practical Guide to Successful Collaboration. ABC-CLIO. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-58683-540-8. 
  7. ^ Jason Koebler, FCC Cracks Down on Cell Phone 'Jammers', U.S. News & World Report (October 17, 2012).
  8. ^ School scraps cell phone jammer program, KHQ-TV (undated).
  9. ^ Associated Press, Teacher suspended for jamming students' cellphones (June 3, 2015).
  10. ^ a b c d e f Kate Taylor, Ban on Cellphones in New York City Schools to Be Lifted, New York Times (January 6, 2015).
  11. ^ a b c Edgar Sandoval, Dale Eisinger & Reuven Blau, Department of Education lifts ban on cell phones in New York City schools, New York Daily News (March 2, 2015).
  12. ^ Preventing cell phones from being stolen at school, KAKE (2015).
  13. ^ Dan Stamm, High School Cell Phone Theft Ring Busted, NBC Philadelphia (January 11, 2012).
  14. ^ Josh Higgins (7 August 2013). "More schools use cellphones as learning tools". USA Today. 
  15. ^ "N.Y. School Blocks Cell Phones from Wi-Fi Network". 
  16. ^ Distracted Driving Laws, Governors Highway Safety Association (last updated February 2016).
  17. ^ Steph Solis, School bus driver fired for speeding, texting, Asbury Park Press (October 29, 2015).
  18. ^ Bethlehem Area School District bus driver suspended for allegedly texting and driving, WFMZ (October 29, 2015).
  19. ^ School Bus Driver Suspended After Cellphone Video Shows Her Texting, ABC News (September 20, 2013).

External linksEdit