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The Pros and Cons of Smartphones in the Classroom

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Should smartphones be allowed in the classroom? Phones offer multiple forms of communication -- voice, text and video -- as well as a connection to the Internet, access to audio and video streaming, satellite navigation and a veritable galaxy of apps. But are they too powerful? Too dangerous? Too distracting? Should smartphones be banned from schools or embraced as learning tools?

Reading through this list of pros and cons for cell phones in school can help you make the right decision for your child’s school experience.

Pros to Allowing Smartphones in School

Instant access for parents

Should cell phones be allowed in the classroom?Any teacher can tell you that parents are a major source of calls and texts in the classroom. Some are simple workaday messages like coordinating after-school pickups, while others are of greater importance, concerning family emergencies. Many parents deeply appreciate being able to reach their kids when necessary in school.

Quick answers to information

Let’s face it, smartphones are great for research. They provide ready access not only to the World Wide Web but countless research databases and up-to-date news services. Instead of sitting in their seats not knowing answers to questions, students can find their own answers with smartphones in school, bringing a bit of student-centered learning to the classroom.

In-class assignments assistance

We’ve now reached the point where real work is being performed on smartphones, up to and including feature films and bestselling novels. Students can easily write assignments, shoot and edit photos, audio and video, and craft presentations, then share their work with the whole class via projector or Smartboard. Properly employed, today’s phones can be powerful tools for learning.

Social learning opportunities

The standard learning model is not the best for everyone. There are many reasons why a student might be unwilling or unable to speak up in the classroom, including learning exceptionalities and just plain shyness. Social media-based learning models on a student's smartphone can offer a route for broader participation and sharing. Indeed the familiarity most young people have with social media can reduce stress associated with learning. Students are able to share not only the files they have created, but also their online resources with other students on central site so that everyone in class with cell phones has access.

Cons to Allowing Smartphones in School

Safety of digital devices

Officially, smartphones pose no medical risk to people who use them. However, questions remain about the methods used in dismissing those risks, so the matter is far from settled. Even if there is no risk, the fears many parents have can make the use of smartphones in the classroom a controversial choice.

Exposure to inappropriate content

It can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for teachers to control what students view on their cell phones in the classroom. We all know that a vast amount of inappropriate content is freely available, and this includes content that is harmful but gets less media coverage -- for instance teen gambling is a serious problem. Schools frequently implement firewalls to block such content but tech-savvy students routinely find ways around these measures.

Exposure to inappropriate contact and cyberbullying

Pros and Cons of  Cellphones in SchoolThe digital world can be dangerous. Not only are there predators, but students can sometimes be convinced to share compromising imagery. At the same time, some youngsters find themselves the targets of cyberbullying. Using smartphones in the classroom can inadvertently expose young people to these dangers -- the opposite of the goals of educators, who are traditionally devoted to the safety of their students.

Distraction from schoolwork

Cell phones are fun. They’re too much fun. If adults can have trouble tearing their eyes away from the little things, then so can young people. Classrooms are supposed to be devoted to learning, and if students are using their phones for non-educational purposes, well, the whole endeavor is just a waste of everyone’s time.

What Are Your Thoughts On Smartphones In School?

There is no clear answer on whether allowing smartphones in the classroom is more beneficial or harmful for students. Understanding your child and their needs can help you as a parent or teacher determine what is the best course of action to take.

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