The digital age has placed mobile phones ubiquitously throughout our society. With parents buying phones for children of all ages, these devices have even made their way into school classrooms.
In order to maximise the opportunities presented by mobile phones in classrooms, and mitigate potential disruptions, it’s important for educators and parents alike to be well-versed on the subject. That’s why we have assembled this comprehensive guide to mobile phones in schools, and the advantages and disadvantages they can present.
Benefits of mobile phones in schools
While the thought of mobile phones in schools can send chills down the spines of parents and teachers alike, there are some benefits to having an army of school children with supercomputers in their pockets.
Mobile phones can allow students to stay connected with their parents at school. This helps to promote student safety.
Like it or not, mobile phones are also a huge part of how young people communicate in today’s day and age. As a result, mobile phones can help students stay connected with their friends if they are away sick or on a holiday. This helps maintain social connections among students, which is a hugely important part of the educational experience.
Teachers can make use of mobile phones to help students learn. There are all kinds of learning apps and digital textbooks available on mobile phones students can take advantage of to boost their learning experience.
Students using their own phones to access this material can also be a major cost-saver for schools.
Mobile phones come equipped with calendars, note-taking apps and to-do lists. For notoriously disorganised students, this can give teachers and parents peace of mind that their little ones can stay on top of their tasks.
For example, if a student commits the cardinal sin of leaving their notebook at home, they can simply use their mobile phone instead.
Teachers and parents want children to enjoy their recess and lunch, and mobile phones can bring an enormous amount of entertainment to students. This is particularly important for students who are unable to participate in physical activities, perhaps due to a temporary injury like a broken leg, or if they live with a disability.
This can help to ensure students don’t feel bored or left out during what should be a fun time for them.
Challenges of mobile phones in schools
As teachers and parents are all-too-aware, mobile phones in schools can provide plenty of challenges, too. Here are a few of the most pressing issues mobile phones can cause.
Mobile phones are a seemingly never-ending source of digital distraction. Allowing mobile phones into schools means that students always have access to a device they’d much rather pay attention to than their teachers.
From texting answers to searching for exam questions online, mobile phones open up a whole new realm of cheating for schools to contend with. These devices can seriously jeopardise the academic process for schools.
This can present major logistical issues for coordinators. For example, if it is discovered that the first batch of students to do an exam have taken pictures of the questions and disseminated them among the grade, schools are left in a major quandary about how to proceed.
Another serious issue presented by mobile phones in schools is cyberbullying. The world of cyberbullying has opened up entirely new realms for youngsters to target each other. Mobile phones in schools enable bullies to continue the onslaught on school premises.
There is a growing body of research that indicates that extended mobile phone usage among children may have detrimental long-term effects. Concerns have been raised about the impact on mobile phone usage on sleep patterns, shortened attention spans and more.
By allowing mobile phones in schools, administrators allow the potentially deleterious effects of mobile phone usage to continue on school grounds, while also being seen to sanction their long-term usage in the eyes of parents and students.
Finding the right balance
Evidently, there are a number of pros and cons to allowing mobile phones in schools. How then can schools look to enjoy the best of both worlds?
Schools can set guidelines for mobile phone usage – for example, only allowing them to be used in the classroom when allowed by teachers. While this may present some headaches for enforcement, it’s a great way to enjoy the advantages of mobile phones in schools while mitigating some of the concerns.
For a somewhat heavy-handed solution, schools may ban phones outright. This action has also been taken at the government level. For instance, the Australian state of New South Wales has seen mobile phones banned for public high school students.
Phone lockers are one way for schools to exercise control over when and where students use their mobile phones. If you’d like to have this control, get your schools a phone locker from TechXpress.
Schools are all about education, so why not use mobile phones in schools as a chance to educate students? They can present an excellent catalyst for conversations about the use of technology in education, academic integrity and social connectivity. When students are properly educated on these issues, they will be empowered to make better decisions with regards to mobile devices in schools.
In conclusion, while there are a great many benefits to mobile phone usage in schools, there are also plenty of pitfalls to be aware of. It’s up to teachers, parents, students and even governments to come together and make the right decisions to seek the best outcomes in the realm of education in the digital age.