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? Damian Maher, Senior Lecturer in Education, Use of ICT and Social Media, UTS Sydney, believes mobile phones should not be banned from schools, as they serve many important functions, and students should learn to use these devices to participate effectively in the workforce, as he stated in an interview reported by The Guardian in June 2018* .
When schools teach students how to use mobiles effectively, these devices become a means of engagement, not a distraction in the classroom. Digital literacy is a critical aspect of schooling, and mobiles can support such learning. Also, mobile phones are an important link between students and their parents, as they play an important role in ensuring safety, and also support the health of students affected by diabetes and other conditions that require access to medical apps during school time.
Maher believes that schools should teach students to use their phones effectively, rather than suggesting bans. The benefits of mobile phones can in fact be best achieved when they are included with a clear purpose, as students become motivated when they fully understand the potential of technology, and feel empowered to use it as a positive tool.