As early as 2004, teachers were concerned about the distraction that cell phones posed during instruction. An abstract in ERIC, the educational journal, presented recommendations for cell phone use school. The situation has only worsened, as the use of cell phones has proliferated among the teens, adolescents, and children. Having recently taught at a community college, I can attest to the ubiquity of the cell phone in the classroom. A 2011 article in Classroom Teaching documented a study on cell phone use at the college level. Researchers “surveyed 269 college students from 21 academic majors at a small northeastern university . . . 95% of students bring their phones to class every day, 92% use their phones to text message during class time, and 10% admit they have texted during an exam on at least one occasion.”
Naturally, considering school tragedies of the past decades, parents want to have immediate access to their school-aged children. But the technology has advanced so far that the phone has become a hand-held computer. Smart phones have become an addiction. Students are using them everywhere for almost everything BUT talking. They’re consumed with social media, texting, sexting, surfing the web, etc. Thus, mobile devices are impeding learning. The Classroom Teaching abstract discussed the implications of cell phone “for issues of classroom management and academic dishonesty.”
Educators must provide very clear guidelines for the presence of cell phones in the classroom. According to Common Sense Media, “Every school is different, but most allow students to bring phones so long as they turn them off during class.” When students break that rule, they are not learning; they are distracting others and being disrespectful to their teachers. In short, school personnel should ban cell phones in classrooms for the good of the faculty and students. Maybe then students will turn their attention from their invasive technology to the task at hand and learn something!