Cell Phone Bans in School – Pros and Cons

By Paul Langhorst     April 2, 2012

Student use of mobile phones during school hours is getting a fresh look and the results are surprising.

According to an article by Kevin Thomas, published in T.H.E Journal, 24% of K-12 schools ban cell phones completely, while 62% allow them on school grounds, but with use restrictions.

The data in this article comes from a April 2010 Pew Research study on students and mobile phone use, so these numbers are probably in need of update, but the underlying theme is the same – like it or not, cell phones are present on campus and are taken to school by students with parent approval.

As a parent, I encourage my high school junior to take her phone to school, but not to use it during classes. She drives to and from school daily, so having the phone handy is a big comfort. In one memorable instance I was taking her to school on a late start day due to snow and ice and was stuck in a horrible traffic jam. My daughter learned via a classmate’s “tweets” that the start was pushed back even further due to the massive traffic jams due to ice that day.

The pros of a student having a phone at school, can often be outweighed by the cons. Some pros include:

  • Immediate access to parents in an emergency
  • Independent class-room level access from the outside world during power failure, loss of phone system, emergencies, or lock down conditions.
  • Access to information (via smartphone and internet)
  • Additional security during before, after school hours
  • Students can help spread necessary information to each other and parents/guardians
  • Growing body of content and curriculum designed to integrate phone use

The cons include:

  • Distractions of social media access
  • Distractions from texting – some kids are addicted!
  • Unwanted or premature dispersal of information to parents, i.e. texting parents about being on lockdown before all facts are known.
  • Continuation of cyberbullying episodes during school hours

Cell phones are the soda shops of the 21st century. Just like kids in the 50’s hung out at soda shops after school, today they hang out on their phones – accessing social media sites, following each others tweets and staying connected with texting. Trying to take them away now, would be like turning back the social clock. Cell phones, smart phones and an increasing array of mobile devices are here to stay. Their use by kids will only grow, reaching down to younger and younger ages.  One of our St. Louis area clients recently shared that “half of their third graders now carry cell phones,” which means 8-9 year old students!

Like it or not, cell phones are here to stay in school. The better solution is try to figure out how to control and integrate their use as opposed to banning them outright.


6 thoughts on “Cell Phone Bans in School – Pros and Cons

  1. I agree that cell phones are here. I do believe that teachers can incorporate cell phones appropriately into classrooms and assignments while teaching them appropriate use. As a parent too, I believe it is my job to teach my child about cell phone use.

  2. I, as a student personally think that we should be able to use phones in school. At the school I go to, many kids who don’t have their phones have no way to contact their parents in case of an emergency, to get lunch money, or to say an after school activity is cancelled, etc.
    At our main office, we are not aloud to use the office phone. The secretary personally calls the parent. I don’t think that’s fair, the least they could do is let us use our phones.

  3. We need cell phones in our school cause of all the bullying and fighting and threatning! Thank you for this pros and cons! This also helped me with my home work!! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *