Should kids be allowed to have personal cell phones and tablets in school?
In another time, perhaps I would say “no” to this. After all, these things were New™ when I was coming up through middle school and high school. Kids had gotten by without them just fine before us, but it was uncharted territory for my generation. Now, these devices are so commonplace their absence warrants more remark than their possession.
Of course the trouble is that more often than not their cell phones become a distraction. Kids are far more interested in the games on their phones than they are in learning new subjects from teachers they wish to escape from. They want to consume other media, and this is nothing new.
Back in my day—she says in mimicry of a crotchety old woman—we passed notes, or read books, or just straight up zoned out and looked inward. I was the kid with a stack of books in my backpack to read or a spare notebook to write in during class downtime (also read: when I got bored of the lecture). But kids have always found ways to avoid paying attention in class. Generations before us did it without our fancy tech, but they were just as easily distracted as we are.
I don’t think kids should be so absorbed in their tech that they ignore all else. I do think teachers should utilize apps and games to instruct their students and engage them in newer, modern ways. How else to do that but with their students’ personal devices? Most kids have phones these days, and some of them even have tablets or personal laptops. Schools always have services for lower income/disadvantaged families so it shouldn’t be a stretch for them to provide tech for their students. It might even be more cost effective in the long run. Textbooks are expensive.
Cell phones are more than just media devices though. They are, after all, phones. Their primary function is communication. When I was a kid, I lived within the walking radius of the school. Every morning I walked to school and every afternoon I walked home. Most afternoons, though, I would spend time with my best friend. We rarely went straight home. There was a community center we liked to spend time at, and they had a landline we could use. I called my mom from that phone many times. The days we didn’t go to the community center though? We could have been anywhere. No one would have been able to reach us. We were 8 and 9.
I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in high school. And at the time, it was a Big Deal™ that I was being given that small measure of responsibility. It was also a convenience. I was involved in a lot of after school programs at that time, and it was easier for me to reach my mother or stepfather for a ride home or to let them know I had a ride home if I had a cell phone to call them from.
It’s easy to poke fun at “kids these days” and ridicule them for their codependency with their devices, but we created this world. We set it in motion when we gave them flash games to keep them busy while we tried to find a minute to accomplish the leaning tower of unfinished to-do lists. We embraced the convenience of technology and raised them alongside it.
My youngest sister has had her own cell phone for years now. I’d only had mine for about a year, maybe two, when I was her age. She has her own personal laptop, as well as a school-issued laptop. I got my first laptop when I graduated high school. But that’s the age we live in. Her generation is growing up surrounded by the tech. It’s a part of them. They’ve never known the world without it.
So of course I think they should be allowed their devices in school. At the very least, banning them or taking them away won’t solve any of the problems that arise when you put hundreds of teenagers together in a confined space for 8 hours a day. Those problems existed before the tech, they will exist after the tech. Let the kids keep their phones.
Notes: Some rambling and ranting for you tonight. I am still very tired from staying up late to finish last night’s post so I won’t add much here. Just figure I should take this moment to check in with you. How’s your writing going? Are these prompts helping you? Have you had water recently? Make sure you get some rest. And eat some real food! The weather is starting to turn for the better. Don’t forget to step outside and get some fresh air!
Ok? Ok. I hope you have a great night. Tomorrow is Thursday which means we are one day closer to Friday! I can’t wait for this weekend to get here! It’s going to be sooo warm! See you tomorrow!
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