Aug 18, 2016

Teen girl using cell phone in school while sitting at desk in class

Could you imagine 20 years ago having a rule for a cell phone in school? Cell phones were not around back then and students never had access to phones in school (unless they went to the office to borrow a landline phone to call someone). Just last week, a Guidance Counselor told me that when students go to the office (to borrow a phone to call home) they are not sure how to operate the traditional landline phones. They have never even heard a busy signal before.

Today, the average child has a cell phone by middle school (6th grade) and if the school allows it, they will be in the student’s possession during the school day. This is a debatable topic, phones being allowed in school. I have asked hundreds of parents, teachers and administrators this exact question, should cell phones be allowed in school? Depending on who you ask, you may get a different response. Some of the arguments included:

  • Students should be allowed to use cell phones in school for safety reasons
  • Students have no business using a cell phone in school because they should be learning in class
  • Students should be allowed to use cell phones when they have down time (i.e., lunch, recess, etc.) so they are kept busy
  • Cell phones are a disruption to the learning environment

This list can go on and on. This issue will not go away, especially with our high tech society, therefore schools are forced to create policies and rules for how cell phones can be used in the school setting. Depending on the parents, the PTA/PTO, and the school administration, this will dictate what types of rules are created. Policies must be established and followed in order to set a tone early on and enforce any type of consequences or disciplinary actions. Many of the rules that schools have in place today for cell phones in the classroom are as follows:

  • Cell phones must be placed in lockers by the first bell and not retrieved until the dismissal bell (basically students can only use them on the bus or during transport to and from school).
  • Cell phones must be set on silent mode, in a backpack during classroom time and can only be accessed during lunch or recess.
  • Cell phones must be stored away during classroom time and during any tests that are administered throughout the school year.
  • Schools are not responsible for any damage or lost cell phones during the school hours.
  • Schools have the right to confiscate cell phones if they are distracting to the learning environment (and returned to the student at the end of the day).
  • If mobile devices are being used for educational purposes, specific programs/apps will be allowed to be accessed during class.
  • All students are required to read, sign and acknowledge the cell phone policy before the school year starts.

Many schools have a “no cell phone” policy at all! They believe that if there was a true emergency, the police would be notified by the administration or faculty of the school. Some would argue that the phones can be a disruption to the school and “the learning process”. As technology becomes more prevalent in our society, cell phones will be more accepted in schools nationwide. There are positives and negatives that go along with this new technology. The key is to have enforced policies within the schools and for each family to know the school policy. An internet filter, such as, Net Nanny®, will allow you to monitor your child’s online digital activities wherever it occurs. This visibility allows you to parent your child on proper phone etiquette at school, so you can correct any behavior that does not comply with school policy, prior to any disciplinary actions.

Susan Wind

Susan Wind

Susan Wind is a college professor who has provided training to financial institutions all over the U.S. relating to cybercrimes. Her most recent program, Parents kNOwmore is working with schools all over the country, educating students, parents and faculty on social media awareness and cyber-bullying.