Whether to allow student use of mobile phones in school is a controversial topic in education. Both teachers and parents are concerned about distractibility, as well as other issues, like cyberbullying. However, using mobile phones in classrooms also has benefits, such as learning opportunities, and easy contact with parents. What do experts think about this issue? Should we ban mobile phones in classrooms, or not?
Susan Sawyer, Professor of Adolescent Health, University of Melbourne, believes students should be allowed to use mobile phones in classrooms as the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. In an interview reported by The Guardian in June 2018*, she states that “mobile phones are now ubiquitous for secondary school students. Beyond the 3Rs, an important aspect of learning for secondary school students is about safely negotiating online environments. This means all schools need to develop policies around the use of mobile phones during school hours.”
The answer is not to ban mobile phones, but rather to have specific policies on their use, and to review and revise these policies regularly, given the dynamic nature of the mobile world. Proper guidance given to students as part of their learning experience on using mobiles can impact their learning and their wellbeing positively.
Being a paediatrician, Sawyer also points out that mobile phones provide access to therapeutic interventions for distressed students. Most students want telephonic support, rather than facing trained professionals. Thanks to mobile phones, students can access text messaging support in real time in case of emergency, without having to wait outside school hours. This is particularly important, as students prefer texting for support, rather than making phone calls or speaking face-to-face with professionals at school.
If you are concerned about students’ distractibility, see how edQuire can help keen students on task.