EC&I 830

Cell Phone Jails, Yay or Nay?

There were so many great points on both sides of this debate and I have used the same ones in my head as I constantly go back and forth on what I think is right for the students and for our classroom.

There are many points about why banning cell phones is a good idea in the classroom. This list is not comprehensive but are the main issues brought up in the debate and some I tend to dwell on.

  • Cell phones distract students
  • Cyberbullying
  • Social media can be dangerous and cause issues in class
  • Tech can be addicting
  • Students may lose communication skills
  • Can casue social anxiety
  • Mental health issues
  • Students record or take photos of classmates and teachers
  • Creates more classroom managment for the teacher

There are many good points here and I have to say some of them are scary, as a teacher and a parent. I can see how it is easy for those of us who didn’t grow up in a time where devices were everywhere to just say BAN THEM! However, we don’t live in that time or society here in Regina. We live in a time where almost everyone has some sort of device, even some of my students from low socioeconomic homes have phones. So, I looked at the disagree side and the points brought up.

Casa-Todd brings up some very valid points for not banning cell phones in her article, Banning Cell Phones: Ongoing Tension. She takes many of our fears about allowing cell phones in the classroom and gives us the flip side of what could happen. One of the biggest worries is kids will ‘check out’ which she responds with, “if students are going to be distracted, they don’t need their phones to check out.” Valid point! She also has a great list of questions schools and teachers should be asking before making the decision. (taken directly from the article linked above)

These are the questions I would ask a school that is considering a ban on cellphones:

  • Do you teachers and students see the devices in their hands as powerful tools for learning or a distraction? If the latter, who might support teachers to help them to use them differently?
  • How might students contribute to this conversation?
  • Are we creating a policy that would stifle the creativity and innovation of some teachers for the sake of appeasing others? Can there be a happy medium?
  • Is the decision motivated out of control, what’s  best for teachers or what’s best for learning?
  • Are there any schools in your District or area who might also be facing this challenge? What are they doing?

  • A final question I would personally is, “Do you, as the teacher, have the skills or learning resources needed to help make this successful for both you and your students?”

One of the points brought up was increased student engagement. Every teacher looks for ways to keep their students engaged in learning. If tech can help with this then I am all in. I have purposefully used phones and iPads as cameras for certain projects as well as calculators and research but I think I need to look further at what they have to offer and integrate them into lessons more. Perhaps that is part of teaching the students to use them appropriately during the school day.

 I think it is time to switch my mindset and teach my students how to use the tech we have appropriatly, just as we teach them to read and write.  In the Maclean’s article they state, “a growing number of boards say they’ve had more success once deciding to stop fighting the technological tide and find ways to incorporate cellphones into schools.” This was in 2017 within Canada so I would think it is still fairly accurate. I know that here it is left up to the individual teachers/schools within our board. I hope with the proper boundaries and education I can stop worrying about my decision every year.

So, does anyone have some good teaching resources for integrating devices and teaching the students proper etiquette in the classroom and school?

Debate 6 – Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.


  1. Leona Stephen

    Ten years ago I would have said students new the etiquette – maybe it was that there were more scared of the consequences of having a phone out. By eliminating consequences or not following through with our rules we have made it harder on ourselves. Today I feel like if rip them of their security blanket I’m the bad guy and that’s a hard battle to deal with.

  2. Alyssa Johnson

    Hi Kari!

    Thank you for your great blog post and insightful comments about banning cellphones in the classroom. As a primary educator in Kindergarten, I have not had this battle but I do observe many middle years teachers and our admin up against this fight every single day. However, I do coach our school girls basketball team every year and at the beginning of every season, I clearly state my expectations. One simply is that if I ever see a cell phone out at a practice or a game, the player will be benched and will not play. Of course there are exceptions, such as having to call family for a ride home after a game, but the girls are always great with their communication with me when they need to use it for these purposes. Perhaps this is harsh, but I have not had any backlash from my players or their families about it at all over the years. My approach every basketball season is to set the expectation with cellphone use, and if not abided by, there is a consequence, and it is the same for everyone.

  3. Megan Henrion

    I really have been grateful for cellphones in the classroom when it comes to the lack of devices available in my classroom as well as for projects. I agree though, that having cellphones in the classroom requires protocols set in place. I also hope to add much more integration of digital literacy in my classroom next year! It can be easy to take a few minutes in the day to bring up the importance of knowing how to use tech properly. It’s simple to teach them how to credit and source information when they start their first research project. We also have a BYOD agreement that we read through and students must sign it. It’s easy to bring it out when there is a breach and remind them they all signed it!

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