Cell phones and schools are two things that generally do not mix well. Each school year, teachers and administrators craft new, creative ways to attempt and regulate cell phone use out of fear that they may cause distraction or disruption during instruction or independent work time. Yet, there is always very little justification for the continued war on technology. New ideas like cell phone red zones are unnecessary, and are generally dysfunctional.
Cell phones are not a grave disruption to the educational environment. Often students use cell phones for research or for some other educational purpose. They are also increasingly used for reading as physical books fall out of fashion in favor of apps, like Overdrive, which the Wentzville School Districts’ libraries and the St. Charles City-County Library offer. A restriction on phones limits these things for students.
When teachers do manage to remember to flip their red zone signs, or catch every student who has their phone out during instruction, this also creates a disruption to the educational environment. Teachers have to take time out of the instruction to reprimand students for having their phones, taking away time from all other students. Instead, if teachers did not enforce this, when a student has their cell phone out during class, it only serves as a distraction to that particular student.
Of course, students should not always be able to do whatever they want on their phones during class, just as they cannot do whatever they want at any time on their chromebooks. A student cannot have their chromebook out during a test, and that same rule should, and does, apply to cell phones, but there needs to be far less fear surrounding cell phones being used during school. Once a student is in high school, there needs to be some level of self control and self determination. If a student wants to have their phone out, so long as they do nothing truly disruptive with it, then the teacher should let them do so and learn the error of not paying attention when test day comes around and the student is ill prepared because they were not paying attention.
The fear over technology has been selective and overblown. Rules over when or when not to use chromebooks are lax, but the phones have far more strict rules even though many of the uses on one are the same.