Is Banning Phones from School for the Better?

The festering issue with addiction to phones in the classroom setting

Daniela Salas, Journalist

Many students rarely talk in the classroom settings anymore, and instead, use screens to tap away and socialize through text bubbles. (Rami Al Zayat)

There was a point in our modern age where many of us thought cell phones were going to only take over a certain part of our lives, and never overstep any drastic boundaries. Looking back at it now, it seems apparent that they’ve taken our daily lives by storm, to the point where it may come across as an unhealthy extent. Cell phones are nothing short of an incredibly convenient tool to those who ever come to use it, but the generations who are now being completely surrounded by such a technologically saturated era, seem to have a general issue in the management of their own devices. We are now seen as cyborgs, seeing as how we never spend a moment in our days without a piece of technology on our bodies, so what’s to say we’re anything short of that notion?

The arising issue with this apparatus plague has become a flag of concern for education leaders who are seeing the effects of it before their very eyes. Young generations are being exposed to cell phones in such a manner that it’s safe to say they are carrying an addiction to them. In such a modern age as ours, kids of our generation are being put in a position where it’s practically impossible to turn a blind eye toward the technology that is put before them, hence why excessive use has become a problem in modern-day learning environments. With such technology being exposed to them en masse, it might as well be safe to say that parts of them have become dependent on such devices. Secretary of Education of the UK, Gavin Williamson, explains that having phones in schools has caused an uproar of misbehavior and misconduct within schools, along with the fact that banning them from educational grounds will make the school day “less distracting” and “damaging”. He further says, “Mobile phones are not just distracting, but when misused or overused, they can have a damaging effect on a pupil’s mental health and well-being. I want to put an end to this, making the school day mobile-free.”

Academically struggling students who have taken part in the ban have reportedly improved their average grades by 14%, a clear pro of the phone ban. (Maxin Ilyahov)

There has been a debate on whether or not having this ban in place would be for the greater good of students or not, yet, taking into consideration how we are pioneering into a technology-dominated world, taking away phones from educational institutions could restrict our learning on healthy habits towards the. It might as well be considered nothing short of absurd to even consider the idea of depriving students of the technology that makes up a huge part of their lives. Without something in place that will teach them in a healthy manner how to use these devices, one can only assume the uncontrolled behavior that may arise as a result of this mistake. 

To try and find the golden spot of compromise, different schools have come up with different ways to try and combat the issue, whether it be banning phones entirely off school grounds or being completely lenient on their use. In the end, it would entirely depend on the school body’s initial behavior towards the devices, and how well they are able to control the urge to use them inappropriately. Some ingenuity has come forward as a result of dilemmas in the form of entrepreneurship. Apps like Pocket Points encourage and reward students through the amount of time they go without using their phones, which they can later redeem for rewards. Yondr created a phone pocket initially intended for concert-goers to lock up their phones in bags can that only be unlocked with a magnetic key. As a result, teachers in several schools have started using this gadget to keep students’ little grubby hands off the extensions of their appendices. Small businesses have sprung up outside of schools that allow students to park their phones in trucks for a dollar a day, a rather ridiculously high price compared to actual parking. What’s funny is that students actually pay the price to do it, which appeared to me as clownery.

Several people looking down and scrolling on their cell phones
Phone addiction starts to become a serious conflict in the topic of socializing, especially when it’s young kids in the stage of developing that skill. (Robin Worrall)

In the grand scope of things, there is a grand issue when it comes to this topic, but we also have to assume progress when it comes to preparing kids for the future. “If we want to prepare children in the 21st century, we must give them the tools of modernity: mastery of math, of general culture, the ability to flourish in social relationships, a capacity to discuss with others, to understand and respect others and then very strong digital skills,” said Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer. “It’s a message we send to society: Do not always be on your phones.” To address this huge conflict, we can’t blame schools and expect them to pull through with the work, but instead, dive down to the root of the problem. Teaching kids from the start how to properly use phones and how to build healthy habits comes from the limits that parents are able to set. We are in an age where we cannot ignore the technological advances put before us, and they’re only going to get worse. But learning how to properly use these tools while keeping a healthy balance, might just salvage us from a reality where we become entirely robots.