A mother’s view on cell phones in the classroom

**The Edvocate is pleased to publish guest posts as way to fuel important conversations surrounding P-20 education in America. The opinions contained within guest posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of The Edvocate or Dr. Matthew Lynch.**

A guest column by Karen Bresnahan

In recent years, there has been a lot of chatter on the internet about why cell phones shouldn’t be allowed in classrooms. Some teachers and parents are dead set against the idea, while others think it could work.

Schools everywhere are busy making new rules about cell phones. Some schools allow students to carry their phones, but only use them at lunch or in between classes, while others have banned the phones altogether from the learning environment.

The debate, it seems, has centered more on the negative side of the argument which views cell phones as a distraction, a temptation, and a detriment to learning because students can use them to avoid paying attention in class by texting on social media or playing video games, or to cheat on tests, by looking up the answers on Google.

As a parent, I always try to use my common sense when thinking about what I should teach my children. It seems to me that cell phones can be a difficulty or a benefit, depending entirely on the attitude of the teacher. After all, they get to decide what happens in their classroom.

I know, as a mom, how important it is for my kids to know what good behavior and bad behavior is at home. At school, it is no different for the teacher who must show the students what is expected of them and to enforce the rules the same way a parent does. If my child uses a cell phone in the classroom to text their friends or play video games, I expect the teacher to do something about it.

But, cell phones don’t have to always be tied to the expectation of bad behavior or misconduct. There can be a positive side. There are many ways cell phones can actually help children learn. Our kids already use the phones every day and they enjoy using them.

Do we want to take technology away from them and punish them for using it, or should we motivate them to use it in good ways?

With or without technology, it is always important to make sure our children know how to learn. It is up to parents and teachers to show them how. The best teachers know all the different ways to motivate students to learn, so the attitude of the teacher is the most important thing when it comes to deciding about cell phones. There are many ways that cell phones can add to learning.

Students can use their phones to do Google searches about any subject. The cameras on phones make it possible for them to take photos and videos for a school project or record an important school event. Phones can be used in emergencies to call for help, or to text a parent about a problem. Phones can be used on field trips to find locations, or on a daily basis, to make communication easier between students and teachers. Cell phones are a way for teachers to make learning applicable to real life and to let students have fun while learning.

Teachers are already finding helpful ways to use technology in the classroom and cell phones are just another way for students to use the internet to connect them to educational resources. Cell phones have become like tiny computers in their hands because the phones are so much better than they used to be.

Computer applications and software are making it easier for students and teachers to share information. Things like Dropbox, Evernote, Schooltown, Socrative, Wiffiti, and Polleverywhere are helpful online resources that many teachers are using now. Cell phone use supports the popular concepts of flipped classrooms and blended learning.

We live in a technology abundant world and cell phones have become a way of life for families. Most children already use cell phones long before they come to school. As adults, we rely upon technology every day, and it makes no sense to discourage our children from using it productively at school.

As a parent, I expect my children to behave at home and I support what the teacher does in the classroom. If a teacher wants to use cell phone technology as a tool for learning in the classroom, I am all for it. But if a teacher wants to take my child’s phone away when he uses it to misbehave, I am in favor of that too.

I want school to be a fun and active learning environment for my children, where technology allows them to quickly access information, and stimulates them to find exciting new ways to learn anything they want to learn. As long as what they are doing in the classroom peaks their individual interests, I am happy.

Cell phones are just another form of technology that can be used to help students become better and faster at learning. Phones can also be used for group sharing and hands on learning that has been shown to have a 90 percent retention rate.

To me, the argument is not about why we shouldn’t use phones in the classroom, but how can we best use technology as a tool to make learning more exciting and more fun, so that students can learn and grow to be self-motivated learners for the rest of their lives.


Karen Bresnahan is a professional writer, photographer and artist from Boise, Idaho. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from the University of Idaho and is the mother of three children. She is a small business owner of Romantic Idaho Weddings, KBLifelines Positive Quotes, and Idaho Naturals Desertscapes artwork. She enjoys writing about education, parenting, health and fitness and positive thinking. Her goal is to motivate, educate and inspire others through her writing and photography. You can connect with her through email at idahokaren1111@gmail.com or on Twitter @idaho1111

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