5 reasons cellphones aren’t ruining class time
In recent years, the number of smartphones being used inside classrooms in schools has skyrocketed, much to the frustration of some teachers. And as student-to-teacher ratios rise, many administrators and educators are already feeling the strain of the increasing classroom reliance on technology.
What’s more, smartphones and electronic devices — even smart ones — can impact kids’ mental health, particularly the young ones.
It’s no coincidence that smartphones and other digital devices have taken center stage in the media. In studies of children ages 8 to 15 years old, among children who recently started using smartphones, more than 50 percent often experience symptoms of tech dependence, such as checking their phone more often than necessary. These parents might also be frustrated by the many distractions that phones can cause. Recently, KABC reported that a seventh-grade student at an East Los Angeles middle school missed 59 percent of her lessons last year because her phone was too distracting.
Because of the thousands of distractions that smartphones and other gadgets can provide, schools have moved to impose further restrictions on students’ use of these devices in classrooms. But are phones really that bad? Or is this exercise in conflict resolution for parents? Here’s what some schools are doing:
1. Trying to eke out more peace and quiet
A health-science teacher at Los Altos Charter Middle School in Austin, Texas, told KXAN that the school was removing devices and establishing smartphone rules that limited classroom use time to 15 minutes during noninstructional time, and only three minutes during instruction. Previously, teachers were required to pay attention to lesson time. In other words, if students didn’t stay on task, that teacher could be dismissed.
2. Defining an enforceable classroom mandate
Georgia Elementary in South Portland, Maine, serves as a case study for schools dealing with their dependence on technology in the classroom. School administrators there are enforcing a 30-minute limit to the use of electronic devices during the school day (including phones). The policy goes beyond banning smartphones in the classroom. The school is also looking at potential alternatives to traditional phones, such as smart watches.
3. Making phone use an on-demand activity
Marishen Elementary in Flagstaff, Arizona, ban smartphones in all areas of the school and requires phones to be turned off during instructional time, but teacher Maria Romero says she prefers the button-down policy because of the way it saves kids the embarrassment of having a phone in their hand at the wrong time. “In our classroom, we ban phones. We have phones in the front. If they’re in the back, they sit in the corner,” she says. Romero also noted that her students have been more receptive to the policy because, she says, “they don’t want to be distracted and, when they’re trying to get homework done, it’s easy to take their phone.”
4. Offering incentives for turning off electronics
The Wane Alliance District in Texas, for example, has a clear online list of penalties for phone addiction — though their punishments don’t include bans. Instead, teachers will see a school dress code in accordance with the school rules (no golf shirts, belts, clothing with sequins, club attire or abs) and the use of cellphones will have to stop on school days for the day at least. If you can’t make it to class or it’s simply too late to turn off your phone, you can also get a “phantom call” write up, where the school will give you an F for bad cell phone habits. The same program covers Snapchat.
5. Giving the student the option to leave the classroom
We want to make sure educators are aware of the burdens that technology can have on our children’s mental health, so some school districts allow students the option to leave a class if their phones are too distracting. Teacher Robin Brueckner at Aurora Middle School in Austin, Texas, notes that the program brings much-needed peace to the classroom. “I have a couple students who are supposed to take attendance. I would encourage them to leave the room. It’s very easy to do,” she says.
Not all schools are so proactive about their use of technology in the classroom, and no matter how much you monitor your child’s use of their devices, it might be too late to make the classroom remotely more serene. Therefore, it’s likely that only the student and the teacher are off limits. But for those looking to increase their family’s social and family-based communication, using a smartphone and device as a coaching tool might be the answer.
This article was written by courtesy of New York Post.