Cellphones in the Classroom: The Good and the Bad

Another week, another debate. This week the EDTC400 class debated the controversial topic if cellphones should be banned in schools. This week was a special debate as we had three perspectives to hear from. Kendall debated the side that yes, cellphones should be banned in the classroom, Cody looked at the idea that cellphones should never be banned in the classroom, and lastly, Tianna debated the side that cellphones should only be allowed in a high school setting. All three debaters did a great job defending their perspective of this controversial topic and they sure got me thinking about my own perspective. Going into this debate I was leaning toward the side that cellphones should only be allowed in high school, however, the points Kendall stated throughout her video really got me thinking if cellphones should be allowed in any classroom. Cody, on the other hand, had a tough battle ahead of him as a very little percentage voted for his argument. I do have to say after watching his video I began leaning towards his side as well! This is going to be a hard decision to make!  I think some of my classmates can agree with me that they were pretty set on one perspective, and their minds shifted after the debate. At least that is what is shown in the prevote and postvote results!

Pre-Vote Results

Post-Vote Results













Now let’s get into the points that each debater stated to support their perspective:

Cellphones should always be banned in the classroom:

Kendall did a great job both throughout her video, the debate, and the resources she supplied to the class. Kendall’s points are summarized as follows:

  1. Distracting: Kendall stated that by having cellphones in the classroom lead to distraction and ultimately negatively affect their learning and wellbeing. Kendall supported this point by referring to the attention residue effect which looks at multitasking and states that once there is something on someone’s mind they may be able to return to the task that needs to be completed, but they will continually be distracted by the other task they were doing. This is the same when cellphones are used in the classroom. Students get distracted from what is on the screen, and then when they return to their school work they are not fully engaged in the content anymore, thus learning cannot be optimized. This theory can also be seen in this article that Kendall shared with the class that looks at multitasking draining the brain and how smartphones are detrimental to a students attention span and learning.
  2. Disrespectful: With cellphones being in the classroom usually result in students using them at disrespectful times such as during important instruction time. This not only

    Photo Credit: The Hamster Factor Flickr via Compfight cc

    makes it hard for the teacher to do their lesson but also has negative impacts on students around them. This not only becomes a problem for the student on their device but also to the students who are trying to learn.

  3. Disruptive: This point is closely related to the one explained above. Cellphones not only reflect the negative effects on the individual but on the class as a whole. If a teacher is constantly having to deal with students misusing their cellphones in class how are they ever to receive valuable learning time? As mentioned also in the first point, if the students have a hard time staying concentrated because they are constantly getting alerts, how is learning ever going to take place? This can reflect the article Katia shared in the debate discussion last night of the class who monitored the number of notifications they got within a half hour. These alerts were constant for the whole half hour in the class size of around 30.
  4. Dangerous: The last point Kendall stated to support her argument that cellphones in schools are dangerous. Kendall states that with the use of cellphones in the classroom and in schools, in general, there has been a rise in cyberbullying, cheating, and peer pressure. This article supports this point by stating that cheating is a lot easier now with the use of personal cellphones then it was when people relied on looking over their shoulder to their friends work to cheat. The article also states that cyberbullying was a lot lower before the age of personal phone devices and this new technology gives students the affordance to bully without teachers seeing it in the classroom. Kendall also brings up the point that with the numerous school shootings, and suicide rates that have risen throughout the year’s cellphones in the classroom can cause for misinterpretations and overload on the support services working hard in the moment of crisis. The last thing teachers need is to have their students on their phones when serious situations are occurring in the school.

Cellphones should never be banned in the classroom:

Now that we have heard why cellphones should be banned in the classroom, let’s take a look at why they should not be banned. Cody gave many interesting points to support his side of the debate where he believes that cellphones should never be banned in the classroom. Here are his main points:

  1. Cellphones are an intricate part of our society: To support Cody’s argument he states the importance of incorporating phones into the classroom since cell phones are an integral part of society. This article states that many school boards have decided to stop fighting to ban cellphones in the classroom and to just learn to embrace cellphones and use them to their advantage. Students have cellphones, their parents have cellphones that are used for personal and work use, and everyone else around them has a cellphone. With that, it is important to teach our students how to respectfully use cellphones to form positive digital identities and be able to efficiently use it in their everyday life. Throughout our class discussion of this topic, we discussed that integrating cell phones into a classroom better equips them for when they enter the workforce where they will have their phones on their person and they will either use it negatively or positively with regards to their work regulations.
  2. Useful Resources: Incorporating cellphones into the classroom allows for numerous opportunities and resources to be accessible to students at the touch of a button. Having these devices welcomed in the classroom allows for as this article laid out students to have access to more information, supplementing lessons with digital materials, incorporating digital platforms into lessons, and lastly using educational learning apps. Having these resources allows learning to go in all different directions and lead to education that supports life long learning. These resources support students varying needs and abilities and allow for individual learning that suits all learners! For example; some individuals with varying abilities rely on the use of technology and their cellphones to communicate with other individuals if they do not have the ability to speak or write. Cellphones open up so many possibilities that were never imaginable with pen and paper learning.
  3. Cellphones are not going anywhere: As a closing statement, Cody made the argument that cellphones are not going anywhere and with that, we should embrace what cellphones have to offer and incorporate them into the classroom to create a new form of learning.

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Cody made very strong arguments to support his side, however, he also received some backlash to what he had to say. No one disagreed that the use of cellphones can enhance learning in the classroom, however, many points were suggested that may limit how beneficial cellphones in the classroom truly are. The first limitation looked at how not everyone in the classroom will have access to a smartphone or even a cellphone to do the lesson or activity. This puts these children at a disadvantage from the rest of their classmates. Reflecting on my own experience our school did not have strong enough internet for all the students to be on the wifi so they locked the wifi up so only the teachers and administrators had access. The only choice the teachers had if they wanted to incorporate cellphones into the classroom was to rely on the students to use their own data or to not use the cellphones at all. The other critique that was mentioned was how do we manage the use of cellphones in the classroom? This is a question I was also very curious about as in our school we had those phone parking lots however, they ended up not being used because not all teachers implemented them in the classroom resulting in the students looking at the parking lots as an option. Kaytlyn also reflected on this stating that having school-wide consistency is a very hard goal to reach. Ashley her perspective stating that her brother has these parking lots in his classroom and it would work for the first week and then it would slowly become an issue again. However, Cody gave many articles that gave examples of how teachers could manage cellphones in the classroom. As mentioned above some schools resort to having cellphone parking spots designated in the classroom or simply allowing students to leave their phones face down on their desk. Lastly, this article states the importance of integrating respectful cellphone use into the curriculum to teach students to use their cellphones in an appropriate manner whether it be in the classroom or at their job.

Allowed Only in High School:

Now that we have an understanding of the pros and cons of cellphones in the classroom, we can now take a look into why Tianna believed cellphones should only be implemented in the high school grades. Just like the two other debaters for the week Tianna gave some very important points which lead me to critically think about what side I would fall under. Let’s take a look at Tianna’s main points she stated to support her argument:

Not In Elementary School:

  1. Physical Health Risks: Tianna pointed out the radiation in phones are unhealthy for younger children and the younger the child the bigger the risk. This extends farther than just the classroom, cellphones are now being used to silence upset children and as a distraction to a child. It is the go-to form of technology that parents give their young children when they are out in public or trying to do work around the home. With the unhealthy physical risks, why do we continue using this form of technology or any technology to soothe our young children? 
  2. Mental Health Risks: As Tianna stated throughout her argument, mental health risks are prominent in young grades due to the use and misuse of cellphones in the classroom. This article states the rising concern parents are having with regards to their young children becoming so dependent on cellphones. Tianna stated that mental health risks are more prominent in younger children then teenagers, however, I do not overly agree with this comment just because cellphones and social media platforms give way to teenagers to begin cyberbullying, threats, sexting, etc. that would all impact their mental wellbeing and their individual identity.

In High Schools:

  1. Preparation for adulthood: As Cody mentioned in his argument cellphones are integrated into today’s society and with that, our students need to learn how to use their cellphones respectfully in their everyday life. It is important to learn about mobile etiquette and learn when it is and is not an appropriate time for someone to be on their phone. The article Tianna shared with us states the ways in which we need to teach our students the importance of incorporating cellphones and technology into the classroom to prepare them for the world they are living in.
  2. Diverse Learning Strategies: Having cellphones in the classroom allows for inquiry-based learning along with many other strategies such as doing class twitters and blogs that allow for communication between parents, teachers and the students. This article gives many other advantages to cellphones in the classroom such as: can facilitate learning anytime anywhere, podcasts and oral quizzes, mobile geotagging, digital storybooks, and so much more!

Group Discussion:

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As we have seen the debaters this week did a great job in defending their sides. During the class discussion, many of my peers also made some valid points that need to be considered when determining if cellphones should be allowed in the classroom. The first point that really stood out to me was when Lauren asked the question of how far do we extend this rule of no cellphones? Is it just in the four walls of the classroom? The time period of the class? Or once outside of the classroom cellphones are free to use? These questions would have to be determined by the teacher and the staff of the school. Another factor that must be considered is the parents take on the topic. Some parents will argue that cellphones are hindering their child’s learning and some parents will want their child to have their phone on their person at all times in case there is an emergency. So how do we come to an agreement of what the rules in the classroom should be if parents are not supporting our rules? Kaytlyn and Aurora also commented on how cellphones in the classroom are hindering socialization in the schools and between individuals. Aurora specifically stated that if we integrate cellphones into the classroom are we teaching children to rely on their phones too much instead of forming those basic communication skills that will help them in society? Lastly, there was a lot of discussions about blaming phones being a distraction, however, if we notice our students are constantly on their phones during instructional and work time we as educators should maybe take that as a hint to reevaluate our own teaching methods and form new methods that suit our student’s interests.


To conclude, I have never felt so in between on a debate yet! I believe all of the debaters have given excellent points to defend their side and with that, I am finding it a challenge to understand where I fall! I believe that cellphones can be integrated into the classroom, with certain guidelines in place. It will depend on the classroom dynamics (whether individuals have access to their personal devices), and the rules to how students can use their cell phone in the classroom. I do not think that cellphones should be limited to high school students because by the time they reach high school students could have gained bad habits and formed negative digital identities that will stick with them for the rest of their life. With that, I think it is important to begin incorporating cellphones and other forms of technology into the classroom in the primary years understanding that we live in a society that is immersed in technology. Cellphones are never going to disappear and with that, I believe it is a crucial part of our education system to teach both the positives and negatives to using a cellphone and being present online. Overall, I think this decision will have to be made each year by the teacher after they evaluate their student’s accessibility to these devices to conclude if they believe that cellphones would benefit or hinder their classroom teachings.







2 thoughts on “Cellphones in the Classroom: The Good and the Bad

  1. Hey Sydney! I am right with you with feeling like this debate had be swaying between all three sides! I myself landed on the in between stance, believing that cellphones should only be permitted in the classroom for students who are in high school. In all honesty, if we did not have this in between option, I have NO idea which side I would have taken. There are so many pros and cons to take into consideration, which I guess is why this debate was really jumping! I love how you mentioned in your conclusion that cellphones aren’t going anywhere and that’s something we as educators need to recognize. Whether or not we allow for cellphones to be present within the classroom, it is important to note that students will always be trying to push these boundaries. I found myself wondering throughout this debate as to where we should draw the line and if this is a matter of choosing our battles. Is it really worth fighting students to eliminate cellphones in the classroom? Or should we be using that time and energy to focus on ways to implement these cellphones in a positive way? With that being said, even when all the protocol and precautions are taken, there are going to be students who don’t follow what’s put in place, which can be difficult to manage. I don’t have the answer to all these questions, but I think we definitely need to consider them when making these decisions. Great summary of the debate!


  2. Hi Sydney, I appreciate your honesty in this post explaining how you are still unsure about your position with the topic, I feel the same. We all know that cellphones are not going anywhere and that they will continue to play a major role in the lives of our future students but is that enough to say they should be incorporated in classrooms? There are serious risks associated with the use of cellphones in classrooms but on the other end is it really worth fighting our students’ wishes of wanting their cellphones in class? Due to the research that I conducted for the particular side of the debate that I was tasked with, I do believe that cellphones may not have a purpose in the classroom. As much as I want to build a classroom that is accepting of change and reflects modern-day values, unless schools have consistent cellphone rules that are valued by all members of the school I think it would be very challenging to permit the use of cellphones in my individual classrooms. The question then becomes is that a challenge that I am willing to embrace.


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