Should schools ban cell phones? Parents are torn.


Julia Wellborn’s son was about to start sixth grade when, after much discussion, she and her husband decided to get a smartphone for their rising middle student. Wellborn says she came the following year to see the perks he gets from owning a phone: He makes it easy to coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs at his downtown Nashville school; It’s fun to share funny videos with him via text; It is nice to have her child call home while he sleeps at his grandparents’ house.

But when it comes to cell phones in the classroom? “I’m all for banning them,” she says. The seventh-grade student’s school doesn’t allow him to carry his phone during the school day, she says, “and I definitely feel that takes the right approach.”

As students begin the new school year, controversy has reignited among teachers, school district officials and parents in communities across the country. Beyond the question of whether children should ever own cell phones (according to 2021 Common sense count43 percent of 8- to 12-year-olds own a smartphone), there is the question of whether those phones belong in school.

Most school districts have steadily moved toward limiting mobile phone access at school. By 2020, 77 percent of schools have banned its use for non-academic purposes, According to the Department of Education. Many educators and parents alike have raised concerns about the growing amount of research linkage Exposure on social media of negative mental health effects, and experts warn that American children are already in the midst of acceleration mental health crisis. a the vast majority Public schools have some sort of cell phone policy: some prohibit the use of phones during school hours, others require that they be kept in backpacks or lockers, and some provide Yondr Compressed Bags That disables phones but allows students to keep them close at hand. Efforts to restrict phone access are intensifying in some communities this year, including school districts in whoAnd the Pennsylvania And the New York which recently banned the use of cell phones on some school campuses.

But just as some parents say it’s smart to keep phones out of the classroom, others feel strongly that their children are easily accessible at any time, especially when shock School shootings are still weighing on her. In a community in Northeast Denver, a school district Recently reversed over a proposed ban on cell phones at the local high school after an outcry from parents.

Brooke Shannon, an Austin mom who founded the nonprofit says Wait until eight Five years ago. The organization urges parents to pledge to wait until at least eighth grade to give their children a smartphone. Despite the growing concern of parents haunted by recent shootings, Shannon has noticed a growing interest in her group’s message.

And that momentum has grown in the wake of pandemic lockdowns, she says, as parents try to bring their children back to a version of life that isn’t centered around the screen: “In terms of phones away during the school day, I think parents are being contacted with this problem after the pandemic, because they saw with their own eyes. What it was like with their kids trying to do their homework and take care of the online classes with their phones down, “They can see what a distraction it is.”

Karen Onangst, 49, a mother of 13- to 11-year-olds in Kalamazoo, Michigan, watched the cell phone controversy from the perspective of her husband, a middle school teacher. He and his staff have been involved in an “endless battle with students and their parents over cell phones,” as well as earphones and smartwatches, she says.

Their children’s school implemented a new policy this year banning cellphone use, she says, and she and her husband hope the rule will be applied uniformly and parents demonstrate a greater understanding of the necessity. “Having a mobile phone during the school day is not necessary at all,” she says. “I think teachers and administrators do not receive any support from parents or the community on many things, including this topic. We wonder why [teachers] They are leaving in droves.”

As a mother of two and a former high school Spanish teacher in Raleigh, North Carolina, Brenda de Leon, 35, says her views of cell phones in class have changed over the years. At first, her class policy was strict: Cell phones can’t be outside, period. “But it became one of my biggest problems. I had to stop all the time to ask the kids to get rid of them. I had to call her parents.” I started to allow mobile use but only for educational purposes, such as searching for translations online. Eventually, she says, she let the students take out the phones, but they can’t be used while De León is teaching or creating a distraction during lessons.

When she finally relaxed her rules, it became easier to focus on teaching rather than keeping an eye on her students, she says, “that’s when the problem was almost completely gone.”

This experience informed the way de Leon now thinks about this as a parent, even though her children, who are only 16 months and 3 years old, are far from phone ownership. She wants them to learn how to use it responsibly and accountably when the time is right, she says — and she also wants the ability to reach them when you need to.

“When they grow up, I would like them to be able to [cellphones]De Leon says. “I would definitely panic if I couldn’t call my child in an emergency – thinking about the school shooting, that would be scary. So I wouldn’t be on the plane with my kids being put in a school where cell phones are prohibited.”

Ken Trump, president of the National School Safety and Security Services Consulting, has two teens himself, so he identifies with a deep desire to reach out to a child immediately, especially in the event of a disaster. “As a parent, do I understand the emotional part of this? Sure,” he says. “And I don’t rule it out. It’s real, it’s powerful.”

He says the feeling of helplessness was intensified by the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Ovaldi, Texas, in which a gunman killed 19 children and two teachers, Despite the many calls to 911 of the students.

Trump asserts that using a phone during a school shooting can be a serious liability in ways parents may not realize: ping A text message or an incoming call vibration can alert the shooter to the location of students trying to hide. He says staying completely calm in such a scenario is vital, and it’s also essential for students to be aware of what their teacher is directing them to do, rather than looking at the screen. He points out that this is a point he made clear to his children.

Even after the shooting, experts warn against using cell phones in schools

“What makes us emotionally Feeling safe may not actually make us physically Safely in the moment of the accident,” he says. “Obviously, once someone is safe, you want that parental connection, that connection will happen and it has to happen. But you have to prioritize, and the point is to be aware of the situation and focus on your immediate safety first.”

He says that during the decades of work in which he focused on school security, he’s seen the approach taken in technological development to keep pace with new challenges. He remembers, long ago, when the pager often barred; Just a few years ago, he remembers how some schools were accepting smartphones as an inevitable part of their students’ lives. “But recently, over the past year, I now hear school principals saying these phones are too So So annoying that they’ll go back to blocking them,” he says. “The conversation changes again.”

In northwest Arkansas, Rhonda Franz, 48, has two sons who attend public schools that recently banned the use of phones during the school day (her third son goes to a private school where cell phones were already banned). Her boys had already told her about several of her classmates who had to turn over their phones to the school administration as a first consequence of the policy-breaking, she says, and she was happy to hear it.

I’ve always been frustrated by how much of a distraction phones have become at school: “I hear that from my teacher friends,” she says. “I hear it from my kids, who of course don’t call it a ‘distraction’ and who are more than happy to look at what a friend is showing them on the phone.”

She says she is aware of safety and security concerns, and about being able to quickly contact a student during everyday emergencies or during a more nightmare scenario. She knows the questions that remain on the minds of many anxious parents. “But I’m not sure the answer is to allow students to have cell phones in class,” she says.

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