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Should mobile phones be banned in schools?
#1
Background context: in my state, Victoria, it was recently announced that mobile phones would be banned in primary/secondary schools. They've allocated $12m in funding to go towards building lockers in schools for students to safely keep their mobile phones during school hours (though this funding can actually go towards whatever the schools choose to put it towards).
This policy was in response to concerns about social media and cyberbullying, however has also been met with a lot of backlash due to the heavy reliance schools, students, and even higher education place on the use of technology.

So what I want to know, is what do you guys think about banning mobile phones in schools, and for what reasons do you feel that way?  Sun

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#2
At least they have good intentions. Someone in my school killed themselves because of cyber bullying text messages. It's a serious issue, and I think it's good that they're trying to take measures to prevent that. I just wonder how effective it will be.
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#3
This is complete insanity. It's the kind of thing that comes from people who want to feel better about having supposedly done something about a problem, without considering whether they've actually done something about it.

I'd take it a bit more seriously (before laughing at it anyway) if the main point brought up was the attention deficit that phones supposedly cause. (It's not a real concern because it's something that can be handled in much better ways — failure to keep students engaged has always been a problem; phones just make it more visible.)
But cyberbullying and social media? Do these policymakers forget that students will just use their phones the second they retrieve them from whatever storage they are put in?

If students use their phones to capture instances of actual bullying in school, then phones and social media are just a symptom, and the problem is that bullying is happening at school, which is something schools worldwide have systematically failed at dealing with. It's always been too easy to push the problem under the rug and say that "kids will be kids", and just treat the symptoms. (Consider this scenario: student A is constantly bullied by a group led by student B. A's friends become quickly ostracized by B's group, and so nobody stands for A anymore after a while. Given enough time, A snaps and punches B in the face. Now consider what your average school would do to handle the situation — most would just take disciplinary action against A, which is treating the symptom and ignoring the background.)

If students are using social media to bully other students without the school being involved, how will banning phones in school have any effect on this? Students will continue to do that outside of school; schools have no way of limiting this behavior by force (despite many have pointlessly tried). It is therefore only reasonable to assume that they want to limit the kind of behavior that can only happen in school — but this can only take the form of recording events that happen physically within the school's facilities, since anything that doesn't involve the school itself will not be curtailed at all by this measure (as it will continue to happen outside of school). And as stated above, if recording events that happen in school is a problem, then the real problem is that bullying is happen at the school itself, and phones are merely a symptom.

This is just yet another case of phones being the 2010s' scapegoat, in the same way that videogames were the scapegoat before, and TV before that, and magazines, and even books at some point in time. Nothing is done towards solving the actual problem here; this is just giving policymakers the warm fuzzy feeling that they are doing something, despite they are not.
And it's also giving them a way of finally addressing the phone "problem", because society would be so much better without those damned smartphones that are the cause of all evil in the world, and as soon as we stop using them, we'll transition into a permanent, everlasting and unbreakable state of global peace and happiness, right? Right?
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#4
Can they not just take away the students phones if they're too distracting? Seems like a complete waste of money that will have no meaningful impact. I don't know how things are in Australia, but in the USA, our Democratic politicians love to talk about passing legislation to ban X, Y, and Z. And guess what, banning things doesn't work. I hope your politicians can learn from our mistakes.
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#5
(2019-09-13 05:56:47)Legend Wrote: Can they not just take away the students phones if they're too distracting? Seems like a complete waste of money that will have no meaningful impact. I don't know how things are in Australia, but in the USA, our Democratic politicians love to talk about passing legislation to ban X, Y, and Z. And guess what, banning things doesn't work. I hope your politicians can learn from our mistakes.

That’s exactly why it has received so much backlash — because it seems more reasonable to implement policies about phone use rather than banning them altogether. Has the added benefit of actually teaching students how to use technology responsibly rather than altogether banning it.

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#6
You mentioned that the $12 million will go towards building lockers in schools, are they uncommon over there? My high school had lockers and I can assure you that not a single person I went to school with put their phones away in them.
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#7
(2019-09-13 07:23:13)Legend Wrote: You mentioned that the $12 million will go towards building lockers in schools, are they uncommon over there? My high school had lockers and I can assure you that not a single person I went to school with put their phones away in them.

No no, we have lockers. The $12m is to build lockers specifically for holding the phones.

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#8
Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. In the age of flip phones, I think they were relatively harmless but smartphones are highly addictive and fuck with people's brains. Especially if you are a teenager. The rise of smartphones has apparently been linked to the rise of mental illness in teenagers.

Here's a brief blog I read on the topic: http://www.calnewport.com/blog/2017/08/2...generation.

I also don't think the example you provided in the post had much to do with banning smartphones themselves. You can ban the use of something without allocating 12 million bucks. For example, in my school you were allowed to carry around phones but not able to use them except for emergencies.
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#9
(2019-09-13 19:10:28)Ali Wrote: Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. .

Often in our classes our tutors instruct us to use our phones (and other technological devices) to look up whatever they want us to.



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#10
(2019-09-13 19:42:13)TheWicked Wrote:
(2019-09-13 19:10:28)Ali Wrote: Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. .

Often in our classes our tutors instruct us to use our phones (and other technological devices) to look up whatever they want us to.

That's not a very compelling reason. I still think that the downsides by far outweigh the upsides.

Is it really that often? I went to a university in which everyone had laptops for 5 years and I can count the instances that instructors asked us to look something up on my fingers
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#11
(2019-09-13 19:10:28)Ali Wrote: Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. In the age of flip phones, I think they were relatively harmless but smartphones are highly addictive and fuck with people's brains. Especially if you are a teenager. The rise of smartphones has apparently been linked to the rise of mental illness in teenagers.

Here's a brief blog I read on the topic: http://www.calnewport.com/blog/2017/08/2...generation.

I also don't think the example you provided in the post had much to do with banning smartphones themselves. You can ban the use of something without allocating 12 million bucks. For example, in my school you were allowed to carry around phones but not able to use them except for emergencies.

As stated, that was just supposed to provide context specific information about how it's being implemented in Victoria. Previous to this we were also allowed to carry phones and only use them for emergencies (they were not tolerated in class unless we were instructed to use them by our teacher) -- but we'd still largely see students using them during breaks or even still hiding and using them during class. The difference now is that phones are not allowed to be on your person at all, and if you do have an emergency you have to use the school's phone.

(2019-09-13 21:08:10)Ali Wrote:
(2019-09-13 19:42:13)TheWicked Wrote:
(2019-09-13 19:10:28)Ali Wrote: Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. .

Often in our classes our tutors instruct us to use our phones (and other technological devices) to look up whatever they want us to.

That's not a very compelling reason. I still think that the downsides by far outweigh the upsides.

Is it really that often? I went to a university in which everyone had laptops for 5 years and I can count the instances that instructors asked us to look something up on my fingers

I think this depends on where you study, though.
At my university every single lesson incorporates some kind of search/research element: from defining words/concepts, to locating examples or articles. Similarly in high school we'd often use our phones as study devices (I personally used a flashcards app), and to photograph notes from the board.

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#12
I'm not going to bother quoting because there's a lot of posts above I'm going to address.

Disclaimer: I know there are people who are addicted to their phones, of all ages, including school-aged children and teenagers. They are a minority, and like any other person with a mental problem, they must be handled specially and according to their situation. I'm not talking about them. I'm referring to the general case.

First of all, that article about the deleterious effects of phones on teenagers is so biased it should carry a disclaimer. Click through the link to the original article and you'll see for yourself — the original article it references paints a picture nowhere near as bleak as this one (which decided to focus on the negatives and ignore everything else). I'd also cast severe doubts over the original article's analysis about depression and other harmful effects; it seems to have all the rigor of "I talked with a teenage girl and she uses her phone a lot", with fancy storytelling on top.

While it's not apparent how a phone would be useful at school or in class, that also applies to a vast number of items that have never been banned in schools. Technically, anything that isn't specifically a textbook or a school supply of some sort has no use in class — students will often carry plenty of stuff in their bags that isn't related to school activities (such as their own books or magazines, packs of cards, random trinkets to decorate their backpacks, food, drinks, make-up or whatever it is that girls carry... I've even seen some students carry a change of clothes). "Not related to school activities" has never been a real reason for banning something (even if it is occasionally used as a pretense in order to conceal the actual reason). Nobody would ban, say, decorative keyrings hanging off backpacks just because they "don't serve any purpose in class" (which indeed they don't). So applying that reasoning to mobile phones is disingenuous. "Mobile phones don't have a place in class, so they should be banned" isn't a valid argument because "mobile phones" can be replaced in that sentence by literally hundreds of items, all of which are allowed. Of course, someone could argue that a mobile phone is not a keyring or a pack of cards. But that argument holds no ground unless it explains why mobile phones are worse than all of those acceptable items that don't serve a purpose in class. And that explanation seems to always be absent when people try to use this argument to defend their position.

Of course, phones can definitely be useful in class, and teaching students how to use their phones to further their education is far more likely to help them than straight up banning the devices. (You don't have to be specifically asked to use your phone to complete a task. Knowing how to use the resources you have at your reach, including your phone, is part of learning, after all.) But I digress.

Distractions caused by phones are a legitimate concern, and it is often the main reason quoted by anyone who wants to restrict phone usage in virtually any context, whether it is parents, teachers, or anyone in a similar situation. It's the one reason why banning phones in class may seem like a reasonable idea.
But it is not. Student engagement is a complex problem, and phones probably don't make it any better, but it's not like students were 100% focused in class before phones came around. There are many things vying for a student's attention while in class, and if the teacher fails to make the class engaging and interesting, students will stop paying attention out of sheer boredom, regardless of whether they have a phone or not. Phones will generally win over many other alternatives (doodling, looking out the window or at their classmates, annoying their classmates, etc.) because of their engagement potential, but it's important to remember that if a student spends more than a few seconds on their phone, they have already stopped paying attention to the class — engagement with the class has already been lost at this point. And if the student is bored and doesn't want to pay attention to class, it might be more beneficial for the class as a whole to have that student quietly using their phone than to have bored students being loud and disruptive and dragging other students around.

Of course, as I said in the disclaimer, there are special cases; some students just can't stop using their phones, and it's important to deal with those students properly — which may imply a partial ban, but it will certainly require more than that to teach them better behaviors. But for the average case, banning phones does more harm than good, as there is no good reason to do it in the first place.
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#13
You can't cyberbully a student with that stuff though. And a smartphone is far more addictive than any of the examples you listed.
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#14
(2019-09-14 01:24:12)Mystery Wrote: You can't cyberbully a student with that stuff though. And a smartphone is far more addictive than any of the examples you listed.

Banning smartphones in school won't do a thing about cyberbulling, as I said in a previous post, because teenagers will still use phones outside of school. As for being "far more addictive", banning phones will do as much for phone addiction as the prohibition did for alcoholism — you have to teach better habits, not impose them by force. It's a learning environment; it's the perfect place to actually teach healthier behaviors.
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#15
(2019-09-14 00:07:04)Ena Wrote:
(2019-09-13 19:10:28)Ali Wrote: Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. In the age of flip phones, I think they were relatively harmless but smartphones are highly addictive and fuck with people's brains. Especially if you are a teenager. The rise of smartphones has apparently been linked to the rise of mental illness in teenagers. Here's a brief blog I read on the topic: http://www.calnewport.com/blog/2017/08/2...generation. I also don't think the example you provided in the post had much to do with banning smartphones themselves. You can ban the use of something without allocating 12 million bucks. For example, in my school you were allowed to carry around phones but not able to use them except for emergencies.
As stated, that was just supposed to provide context specific information about how it's being implemented in Victoria. Previous to this we were also allowed to carry phones and only use them for emergencies (they were not tolerated in class unless we were instructed to use them by our teacher) -- but we'd still largely see students using them during breaks or even still hiding and using them during class. The difference now is that phones are not allowed to be on your person at all, and if you do have an emergency you have to use the school's phone.
(2019-09-13 21:08:10)Ali Wrote:
(2019-09-13 19:42:13)TheWicked Wrote:
(2019-09-13 19:10:28)Ali Wrote: Yes, use of phone in school (apart from emergencies) should be banned. They serve little purpose in school and are mostly a distraction. .
Often in our classes our tutors instruct us to use our phones (and other technological devices) to look up whatever they want us to.
That's not a very compelling reason. I still think that the downsides by far outweigh the upsides. Is it really that often? I went to a university in which everyone had laptops for 5 years and I can count the instances that instructors asked us to look something up on my fingers
I think this depends on where you study, though. At my university every single lesson incorporates some kind of search/research element: from defining words/concepts, to locating examples or articles. Similarly in high school we'd often use our phones as study devices (I personally used a flashcards app), and to photograph notes from the board.

This. Pretty much every single seminar of mine involves us having to look up something unless we're watching a film.

A lot of the time we'll be annotating a source which we first have to look up on our technological devices. Since I don't feel like carrying a laptop with me on the train, my phone is a very handy alternative. 
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#16
I want to be clear that I'm only advocating for a phone ban in high schools and elementary schools. I think post-secondary is another argument. 

The rest of this is replying to ax6's post

The blog I linked (that linked to another article) was probably a bad one. I was trying to summarize my views and actually didn't expect to get into a debate. 

The point I was trying to make was that the rise of smartphones was correlated with the rise of mental health issues in teenagers. Correlation is not causation but there aren't that many other factors that might have caused that problem (I could be entirely wrong though, maybe there's something I have not thought of). I agree there are advantages to having phones in class but those advantages are relatively small compared to the potential harm they could cause.


While it's not apparent how a phone would be useful at school or in class, that also applies to a vast number of items that have never been banned in schools. 


I agree many items brought to school don't have any use. But they also aren't smartphones. I don't think things like keychains are equivalent to smartphones in terms of how distracting they can be.
Of course, phones can definitely be useful in class, and teaching students how to use their phones to further their education is far more likely to help them than straight up banning the devices. (You don't have to be specifically asked to use your phone to complete a task. Knowing how to use the resources you have at your reach, including your phone, is part of learning, after all.) 
I highly doubt that students who don't use phones in class will be "behind" peers who do use them in class. Even a teenager who has never seen a smartphone in their life could probably figure out how to look something up on it in 30 in minutes or less. Plus, its only a ban in school.

But it is not. Student engagement is a complex problem, and phones probably don't make it any better, but it's not like students were 100% focused in class before phones came around.

Although phones are not the cause of students being distracted, they most likely make it worse. 

I just don't think phones have enough utility in the classroom to justify them being used. The potential downside is far higher than the few situations in which they are useful in class. 
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#17
Yeah, there's no reason for kids to use phones during school anyway
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#18
No, the ability to exercise self-control is something you shouldn't shelter children against, it's something you should let them develop from an early age.
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#19
(2019-09-14 23:47:44)Ali Wrote: The blog I linked (that linked to another article) was probably a bad one. I was trying to summarize my views and actually didn't expect to get into a debate.
How did you not expect that in a discussion thread...?

(2019-09-14 23:47:44)Ali Wrote: The point I was trying to make was that the rise of smartphones was correlated with the rise of mental health issues in teenagers. Correlation is not causation but there aren't that many other factors that might have caused that problem (I could be entirely wrong though, maybe there's something I have not thought of). I agree there are advantages to having phones in class but those advantages are relatively small compared to the potential harm they could cause.
At this point you're admitting that assigning blame to smartphones is a complete blind guess (you just couldn't come up with any other potential factors). And if we consider that the mental health issues are mostly constrained to specific regions (while smartphones are a worldwide phenomenon), that blind guess seems quite a bit off the mark.

(2019-09-14 23:47:44)Ali Wrote: While it's not apparent how a phone would be useful at school or in class, that also applies to a vast number of items that have never been banned in schools. 

I agree many items brought to school don't have any use. But they also aren't smartphones. I don't think things like keychains are equivalent to smartphones in terms of how distracting they can be.
You're missing the point here. What I was saying is that "smartphones have no purpose in class" is a non-argument because that has never been grounds for banning items in classrooms. It's an excuse. Side arguments like this one (i.e., statements that are true at face value, but don't actually derive in the conclusion, since they also apply for a large number of cases where the conclusion doesn't) are often used as anchors to conceal weaker points; in your case, you were making a point about mental health and disruptiveness, for example. These "bonus statements" only obscure the real point; if the argument is strong enough to hold, it doesn't need them.

(2019-09-14 23:47:44)Ali Wrote: Of course, phones can definitely be useful in class, and teaching students how to use their phones to further their education is far more likely to help them than straight up banning the devices. (You don't have to be specifically asked to use your phone to complete a task. Knowing how to use the resources you have at your reach, including your phone, is part of learning, after all.) 
I highly doubt that students who don't use phones in class will be "behind" peers who do use them in class. Even a teenager who has never seen a smartphone in their life could probably figure out how to look something up on it in 30 in minutes or less. Plus, its only a ban in school.
People who have had little exposure to smartphones in the past tend to have significant struggles using them. You will have invariably met hundreds of people who cannot use basic functions of their phones. There's no reason to believe schoolkids are any different.
That being said, the ability to search for further information is one of the main skills taught in any school (particularly in later grades/years); that's the reason they have many assignments and group tasks involving research. The need for this ability to be taught has been established for decades, and it is part of any school system worth mentioning. Once upon a time, research implied making a tour to the local library; nowadays, we have better technology. Teaching how to use this nearly-omnipresent technology will always result in a better understanding of available tools.

The "it's only a ban in school" argument doesn't hold in this light, because (1) it's implying that it's okay to ban things without good reason (since none has been quoted; only excuses why the ban wouldn't be so bad, such as this one or "it doesn't have a use in class") if the ban is limited, and (2) it disregards the fact that school is the perfect environment for teaching how to use smartphones in a better way (which does include exercising restraint and not losing focus on class).

(2019-09-14 23:47:44)Ali Wrote: But it is not. Student engagement is a complex problem, and phones probably don't make it any better, but it's not like students were 100% focused in class before phones came around.

Although phones are not the cause of students being distracted, they most likely make it worse.

[citation needed]

(2019-09-14 23:47:44)Ali Wrote: I just don't think phones have enough utility in the classroom to justify them being used. The potential downside is far higher than the few situations in which they are useful in class.

That's also literally true of just about anything that has no specific class purpose. A keyring has no utility in class, and it does have downsides (for example, it can easily be thrown at other students). These things aren't banned. Bans only make sense when something is actively harmful, and phones aren't.
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#20
I think they shouldn't be banned because you gotta teach the kids to resist distractions and focus on work rather than taking it away.

The naughtiest kids are always gonna try to find some way to not do work but being on their phone is something teaching assistants can look out for (if the class has one) or something the teacher can be on the lookout for.

Phones are banned from lessons a lot of the time anyway (not taken away but will be if you're caught using one and if they're not banned then they serve a good purpose) so I think this is a break+lunch thing too about wanting kids to play outside more than be on phones, adding more activities to break+lunch could help this a bit and I think banning phones would just annoy people, I mean it's break time and if they find it better to be on the phone for a bit then that's probably better for their learning anyway cos they're not annoyed.

Also if a teacher feels like phones and stuff will enhance the lesson when used right they've got the freedom to do so if you don't ban them from the whole school.

The cyber-bullying would happen outside of school either way and anything during school can surely just be reported and having bad kids excluded away from everyone else if they keep doing it.
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