Should cellphones be banned in schools? 

February 28 – As we all know, cell phones are everywhere today. We all have one and we sometimes see rather young children with a phone in their hands. 

Some people are wondering, should kids be allowed to have them in schools? 

In fact, a number of countries around the world are outright banning cell phones in their public schools. The United Kingdom is about to put in what could be called a full ban on cell phones in schools.  

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “It’s mandatory but it can be applied in many different ways depending upon the school but where they experimented with this ahead of this more broad advice, the schools say almost an immediate turnaround in behavior. That’s the thing they noticed the most and of course, academic performance also correlates with getting these things out of the kids hands in the classroom. I don’t know why we wouldn’t consider doing this because where it’s been done, we see a different behavior is one of the worst issues we have in school right now that’s interfering. Plus there’s stories that show where they may have prohibitions on using these things in class, there are many kids sitting with their phones and it’s not worth it to the teachers to even try to take it away. We got that confirmed from teachers in Chambersburg during a curriculum hearing I sat in one time. It’s not uncommon. It’s not just Chambersburg. It’s all across the country because the kids are so addicted, that their behavior just becomes even worse when you try to take these phones away from them.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “It’s the usual suspects there going there’s got to be more money. Here’s something for free that could actually raise grades, calm things down for teachers and it wouldn’t cost a freaking dime.” 

A town in Ireland last year got together, the parents and the teachers, and they made a pact to keep cell phones out of the schools for a month on an experimental basis. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “They saw immediate, positive effects to the mental health and academic performance of the kids. Even after the experimental period ended, they left the ban in place because the kids were reporting positive effects from it. They actually started to like the idea of not having these phones with them during the school day. I think it’s worthy of discussion. The rule in most of the schools now is that you can have these phones, but you’re only allowed to use them in common areas, so in the hallways between classes, you can check them in your locker or at lunchtime, but people are figuring out work around. Some teachers may not be enforcing it. I think these phones are very prevalent on buses back and forth to school. That is another aspect that bothers me. We want the kids to be talking, to be socializing, to be mingling. Unfortunately, I think these phones have become another barrier for kids to engage in what would otherwise be healthy, social activity. The problem is getting worse. You’re seeing phones even kids at the elementary level have telephones, so it’s not just at the high school. You see this the whole way down into the lower grades. Maybe an outright ban could be a solution. Maybe an experiment would be worth doing. Do they ban them for 30 days and just see what kind of feedback they get and then reassess it.”

Jansen added, “I don’t want to hear the pushback of well, what if something happens? All the money they’re asking for, you know how that money could be well spent then if that ends up being the barrier for some to take the phones away from kids? Let’s get dumb phones for all kids and teachers that can get emergency access. It won’t have to be connected to the internet. It won’t provide all that stuff. But that will have emergency access to parents and to emergency services. That would be a far better use of some monetary resources with a far bigger result for kids. I see no reason to go with any of those arguments when we’re looking at these academic poor performances and the behavior problems and the work atmosphere that keeps teachers from even wanting to be there.”

Barkdoll said, “I have one other quick suggestion for school board members, here would be another workaround. For a very low cost, you could install blockers in your buildings. The kids can have all the phones they want. You’ve got those blockers installed, they’re not going to be able to get on the internet or make calls other than to 911. Might that be an easy, effective, cheap work around?”

Chambersburg Area School Board Member Stephanie Harbaugh said, “Personally, I never understood why they were allowed in in the first place. Personally, that’s me. I mean, we couldn’t even take our book bags in whenever I was there. You had the books for your class and then you went and I understand that it’s a different high school than Greencastle, where I attended. But now that it’s in there, how do you go about implementing that without a mass backlash from students or parents or whatever the case might be?”

Ryan pointed out, “You have no problem shoving masks on these kids. If you really want to do something, you can do it. So if you shove a needle or you shove a mask or you shove a plastic divider in there, apparently you have the ability to do it. That’s my personal opinion.”

Jansen said, “They said surprisingly, the backlash wasn’t as much as they thought it was going to be and the results are unquestionable.”

Harbaugh said, “Well, the other side to that that I’ve heard from people is that in the cases of these unfortunate situations with these school shootings, that’s how they’re getting information out because the kids have their cell phones. So it’s definitely a discussion to be had, I believe as far as I’m all about data and research. So if there’s research out there that says this would be beneficial, that’s maybe something to look into down the line but for me right now, in this moment, on the list of things that Chambersburg is focused on, that’s not in my top 10 at this point, because there are bigger things that we need to address and deal with and that’s why it’s been great to have Mr. Bigger come in and really get a lay of the land with what’s been doing and actually seeing what’s going on.”

Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez said, “Personally, as a mom of four daughters, and I have grandchildren, I think that a ban would be necessary. I also provide a service within the school system to help repair different issues that are happening, whether it’s mediation, whether it’s facilitating or peace circles, the focus of kids if you have access to the entire world throughout your school day, especially middle and high school, how can you stay focused in the classroom, in the now? Listen, it’s hard for us as adults. I really believe sometimes when we come into meetings, we should drop our phones in a basket because then you don’t send an email because you missed a whole part of a meeting. So my answer is, I think that it makes sense. Now I understand where parents are like safety concerns, how do I get a hold of my kid? I get all of that. But we’ve been there before. I think that there’s a good way for the school systems to come up with better ideas and better ways. Maybe there’s an app. Kids have their iPads, they have a device that they’re using within the school. So I feel like if there’s an emergency and you need to get to your kid, there is a way. I think making an excuse for every kid having a cell phone, while educational time is just what it is, an excuse. It causes more conflict. Teachers cannot even teach sometimes. Then if you do say put your phone down, well, I’ve got to text my mom. I mean, I’m called into the classroom for things like that. Then you get the parent on the phone that says she needs to be able to tell me when she has a headache. These are small, little things, but these are things that disturb the whole class, the whole culture of learning, and the whole atmosphere within the classroom.”

Jansen said, “The beautiful thing about the UK experience so far is at first the kids kind of resisted. They said they didn’t get the pushback as much as they thought they might get from the parents. But after a year, kids were even agreeing things were better. It improved society. They’re actually talking to each other. They’re making friends. It improved the behavior. It improved anxiety, depression issues with kids and it improved academia. So it’s like a win win.”

Martinez said, “My grandson has an iPad. He’s in the fourth grade. He has an iPad. He does not need to take his cell phone to school. He does have a phone and at 10 years old, I feel like that’s a lot but he does get to do things that his other siblings can’t do. So his cell phone is for after school. He’s not taking his cell phone to school. There’s no need, there’s no reason that he needs to send me a message while he’s in school. Go talk to your teacher. She’ll send a message.”

Do you think that cellphones should be banned from K-12 public schools? Answer the question as a push poll on the News Talk 1037FM app or call in a leave a message to the Sound Off Line! We want to hear from you at 877-709-1037.