Are phone bans educationally sound?

Phone bans at school simply don’t work, many educators argue. And isn’t the whole idea counterproductive in today’s digital age?

Banning student smartphones outright sounds simple. But as many schools have learned, bans are cumbersome and difficult to police. They lumber school staff with heavy administrative burdens that may defeat the purpose of eliminating phones in the first place: to ensure energy and resources are directed toward teaching and learning, not distraction and disruption.

But practicalities aside, are phone bans even educationally sound? A growing number of observers argue that withholding phones may in fact have a disabling impact on young people’s growth and development, compromising their future prospects.

Preparing the rising generation to take its place as leaders in the digital age, some experts argue, demands an inclusive approach to technology in the classroom - and that includes the ubiquitous smartphone.

Risks, but also benefits

Allowing phones in the classroom may mean risking distraction and online harm - as with any  other connected device. But the potential upsides for learning - collaboration, global networking, independent inquiry, self-paced instruction - may be even more powerful.

And then there’s the school’s challenge - indeed, say some, the school’s responsibility - to teach students how to manage technology appropriately, and to navigate the online world using the same set of values we teach them to apply in the offline world.

Values: Online and offline

Students learn from a young age not to chat with neighbours during a lesson. Not to scribble on their textbooks. Not to sneak out of the classroom. Not to copy other students’ work. Not to pass notes or hide manga in their notebooks. They learn how to treat their peers with respect in the real world, as well as how to respect the authority of their teacher and other adults.

shutterstock_323555267-1Learning to stay focused, to delay gratification, to be honest, to respect authority and to behave in socially appropriate ways are values that need to be applied to students’ online lives as well.

Banning technology will not teach them how to do this. On the contrary, it may even suggest that online behaviour need not be subject to the same standards or the same rigour.

And given that they are growing up into a world where technology will be the norm rather than the exception - that it will be embedded into everyday life in all its aspects - that could be a very dangerous message indeed.

Open discourse - clear parameters

“An enriched life in the 21st century requires a balance of technological engagement and real-world relationships and experiences,” notes prominent Scottish education specialist Pamela Boa. “It is incumbent on us to ensure that our young people leave school with the skills to manage a digital lifestyle and succeed in an increasingly connected workplace. This can only come with open discourse and clear parameters at home and at school.”

She adds, “Take away their tech and you take away their ability to succeed.”

Topics: Cyber Safety, Cyber Experts, classroom management, smartphone, distraction, phone ban

Would you like some more information? Or a demo?
Get in touch
Subscribe to our newsletter
Follow us on social media
Popular posts
Parental Controls | Mobile Apps | Cyber Safety | smartphones | schools
Is Roblox Dangerous?
Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | suicide | self-harm | momo | hoax
The Momo Challenge: How you can help your school community
Cyber Safety | online gaming | schools | Fortnite | online chat
Is Fortnite: Battle Royale okay for my child?
Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | suicide | self-harm | momo | hoax
The Momo Challenge: What schools need to know
school filtering | School internet monitoring | ecosystem | e-learning | classroom management | digital learning | New Zealand
The impact of the digital revolution on education
Screen time | smartphones | Duty of Care | digital citizenship | classroom management | digital learning | screens in school
Do Australian schools need to ban phones?

Recent posts

Impact of TV and gaming on student performance

Research published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Pediatrics found that excessive TV viewing and gaming were the ...

Can your school be sued over online bullying?

A growing body of research has established that bullying can create long-term catastrophic effects, both psychologically and physically. ...

Should education for respectful relationships be mandatory in Australian schools?

Should education for respectful relationships be mandatory in Australian schools?

What's keeping your students up at night?

Least surprising statistic of the week: 95% of school principals think students spend too much time on devices when they’re not in school.