Cell phones are a forbidden item in most classrooms. Many schools have policies against students taking their cell phones out of their backpacks during the day or even bringing them to school at all.
However, I think that cell phones can play a very beneficial role in a classroom, especially when used effectively. I’ve stretched the ‘rules’ in the past and let my students pull out their phones for various classroom lessons and activities, and I’m definitely glad I did!
In addition to keeping my students more engaged in learning, using the cell phones offered a whole host of other benefits, many of which I didn’t even think of until I saw them! I’d love to share my answers to the question “why should students be allowed to use cell phones in class” with you.
In this article, I’ll share:
- Opinions of other teachers on using cell phones in the classroom.
- The top reasons students should be allowed to use the phones in class.
- Ways to effectively use cell phones in the classroom.
- Digital etiquette to share with students.
Cell Phones in School — Teachers’ Thoughts
Many teachers and parents are on the fence about whether to let students have cell phones in school. More and more teachers are beginning to see the potential learning benefits cell phones can offer to their students and are advocating for cell phone use in the classroom. In this video, Sam from New EdTech Classroom Why we should allow students to use cell phones in schools.
Below are what some teachers have shared about using cell phones in the classroom.
“We need to embrace these changes and instead of trying to separate that reality from an outdated vision of a classroom, we need to find a way to optimize the educational experience for the connected kids of the future. We can’t disconnect them from the world between the hours of 8am – 3pm everyday. Don’t be scared. You have to leave your comfort zone and take a risk. The same thing you ask your students to do. Take a risk and see what the future may look like and then change your teaching to ensure that the technology is used as a tool and not just a distraction.”
Tim Floyd, Education Awesomeness
“I’ve also seen the value that cell phones can bring to education. Students who might not have access to computers at home can type and submit essays on their phones. Students can quickly look up some information and verify its validity. Furthermore, students can also use their cell phones to collaborate with their peers.”
Christina, The Darling English Teacher
“When students have access to technology and social media, they have access to empowerment and leadership online. As educators, we need to empower our students to use technology for good. When students are given the chance to use their cellphones in class as a learning tool, we can teach them how to positively influence and impact other people online.”
Amanda, EDTech Endeavors
“How about we put the focus back on a skill (and mindset) that speaks volumes in any profession, in any relationship, in any situation. Be present. Yep, that’s it. Be present in the classroom when we are having a discussion. Be present when we are working on something collaboratively. Be present when given choice in your learning path. Be present in your interactions with others. Be present in the challenges that you face. Be present. If we focused on helping students be present we would actually eliminate the arguments for and against cell phones. To be present is to be engaged in our curriculum, and empowered in figuring out their future.”
A.J. Juliani, the Director of Technology & Innovation for Centennial School District
Why Should Students be Allowed to Use Cell Phones in Class — 9 Reasons
There is a lot of debate about whether cell phones should be allowed in schools. While there are some cons to letting your students use cell phones in class, I feel that the benefits using cell phones can bring outweigh these cons. As long as you have solid classroom management and set clear expectations for students using their cell phones, I think you’ll find that there are many benefits to letting your students use them.
Setting up a cell phone charging station, just as you may set up a tablet or Chromebook charging station in your classroom, can ensure your students’ cell phones are charged and ready when needed during instruction. You can learn more about cell phone charging stations in this article, tablet charging stations in this article, and DIY Chromebook charging stations in this article.
Many people wonder, “why should students be allowed to use cell phones in class?” In my opinion, some of the biggest benefits of allowing students to use their cell phones in school include:
1. Providing an Additional Tool for Learning
When students are able to use their cell phones in class, they’ll have access to technology. This can be especially beneficial in classrooms that don’t have enough tablets or computers for each student. Students can use their cell phones to conduct research, answering classroom polling questions, or even type their responses to questions or essays.
Students should be able to have their cell phones with them in the event there is an emergency at school. This will allow them to contact their parents. Many students walk home alone or stay after school for a club, and may need to get in touch with their parents or emergency services. Without a phone, this won’t be easy.
3. Improved Communication
In addition to using their cell phones to communicate with their parents and friends, students can also use their cell phones to communicate with their teachers. This can allow students to share feedback and questions with teachers easily and receive answers whenever the teacher has time. If the teacher doesn’t have time to read a student’s question until after the school day, the student could see the reply immediately, rather than waiting until the next day.
Cell phones include calendar apps, clocks, alarms, and reminders that students can use to help them stay more organized. These tools can help them keep track of assignments, make sure they’re not late to class, and plan out their study time.
5. Can Save Schools Money
Many e-books and necessary course materials are available online. If students are able to use access these materials through their phones, it can allow schools to save money by not purchasing materials they otherwise would need to. Teachers can also share many documents digitally and cut down on printing and copying costs.
6. Good for the Environment
In addition to saving money by cutting down on the number of print resources, you’ll need to provide students, you’ll also be having a positive impact on the environment. Less printing and copying means you’re using less paper, ink, power, and other resources.
7. Prepares Students for the Future
Our job as educators is to prepare our students for the future. I think we can all agree that technology is going to play a huge role in that future. Allowing students to use their cell phone and increase their proficiency with technology can help prepare them for a future career.
8. Can Create Digitally Responsible Citizens
Letting students use their cell phones in school and also teaching them proper cell phone etiquette (see below) can help create digitally responsible citizens. Students can learn when it is and is not OK to use their phones in different contexts and how to look up to show respect when someone is speaking to them. Without this practice in school, students may not be prepared to interact with their phones and others properly in the future.
9. Can Help Students When Studying
During instruction, students can use the camera on their phone to take pictures of important diagrams or images to supplement their notes. They can then pull these images back out as they study for quizzes and exams.
5 Ideas How Cell Phones Can Be Used Effectively in the Classroom
As we mentioned above, allowing students to use cell phones in the classroom can greatly benefit your instruction.
There are a number of ways you can use these technological tools to enhance your lessons and provide your students with access to resources they may otherwise not be able to use. Some of the top ways to effectively use cell phones in the classroom include:
1. Scanning QR Codes
Teachers can create QR codes to send students to a specific website where they can find important information. You can also use QR codes to let students self-check their work (multiple QR codes, with the one next to the correct answer directing students to the next question or problem to solve).
2. Using Educational Apps
There is a multitude of educational apps out there designed for students of all ages and all subject areas. Choosing a few of these apps to use to give your students extra practice on a skill or target a specific area of need can be quite beneficial.
3. Collaborating on Assignment
Students can work together with their classmates using Google Docs and see what the other is typing. This could work with students seated together, as well as with students working separately from one another.
4. Completing Surveys and Quizzes
You can have your students answer polling questions through their phones to assess their understanding of a given topic. These questions may be written as true/false, multiple-choice, or short answers. There are many different programs and websites that can help you with creating quizzes and surveys for your students.
5. Providing Feedback to Others
Students can read other students’ writing assignments or other work and provide them with digital feedback or additional questions to consider.
Digital Etiquette for Students in the Classroom
Once your school has settled the debate over whether cell phones should be allowed in school () and decided to let students use these valuable technological resources, it is essential to teach proper cell phone and technology etiquette to your students and develop systems to manage cell phone use in your classroom. Using cell phones in the classroom properly is key; they should not be a distraction or something that gets in the way of learning.
In this video, CJ Reynolds is talking about tips that he uses to keep kids off their phones without making it a big deal.
Share these rules for digital etiquette with your students to help ensure cell phones are a beneficial tool, not one that distracts from learning.
- Put your phone down when someone is talking to you and make eye contact with the speaker.
- Don’t text while you are walking.
- Be aware of your surroundings and don’t get distracted from someone or something important.
- Silence your phone when you are in class.
- Remove your headphones if someone is trying to talk to you.
- Don’t post on social media during the school day.
- Be a good digital citizen and avoid getting into any digital drama.
- Know the cell phone policy for each of your teachers, and respect it when in their classroom.
- Don’t make your teacher, classmates, friends, or family secondary to your phone.
Watch more about digital etiquette in this video by Rich Colosi Media.
- 6 reasons why cell phones should be allowed in school
- Cell phones in school: Let’s talk about the pros and cons
- What is classroom management?
- 19 big and small classroom management strategies
There are some pros and cons to consider regarding using cell phones in the classroom. However, given all the benefits that were shared above, I think the reasons to allow cell phones in school far outweigh the reasons against allowing them. Allowing students to use their cell phones in the classroom will help keep them engaged in learning and provide them with instant access to technology, tools, and resources to help them learn.
So, now that you know the answer to the question, “why should students be allowed to use cell phones in class,” has you’re thinking changed? How do you see yourself using cell phones with your students?