Should students be allowed to use mobile phones in school? In an age dominated by technology, when phones are the symbol of teenage life, it is not surprising that such a question arose. This question has brought distraught to many school administrators. They find themselves “harassed” by students to let them (students) bring phones to school. The students claim that smartphones help them learn better. But is that true?
Students who support the introduction of phones in school point out that students’ use of phones would be of benefit both to the school and students. They argue that the introduction of phones in school would enable teachers to send soft copies of instructional notes and other resources to students via the internet. That way, there would be no need to print notes and handouts on paper, which often end up being stolen by other students or as litter. The school would thus save the money it would have spent on loads of A4 paper and printing. Students would also benefit as they would then have more portable notes and avoid the stress of carrying hefty files.
The proponents also argue that students of the millennial age need to keep up with their times. Millennial students learn differently from students of ages past, and how they learn is captured in the acronym, ICE (Information, Communication, and Entertainment). The introduction of phones in school would facilitate the attainment of each and every aspect of ICE. For information, smartphones enable the users to conveniently do research on assignments and projects. The pressure on students would significantly reduce, as students would have easier access to the internet. It would also enable students to keep up with the affairs of the country and world. On communication, the usage of phones would enable students to communicate easily with their parents and other relatives. It would also enable parents to keep tabs on their children in school and ensure that they are out of harm’s way. Moreover, phones would come in handy in times of emergency, when health or safety is threatened or when security is compromised. Concerning entertainment, thanks to the internet, the students would keep up with the latest music, sports, movies, and shows. Although the use of a phone for entertainment may seem to be a deviation from schoolwork, it will greatly facilitate relaxation for students and relief from stress.
Students on the opposing side stress that usage of phones in school would distract from studies. They argue that students are children who are not yet able to set their priorities right and may use their phones at the wrong time. Secondary school students are still too young to differentiate needs from wants. The social media applications which smartphones offer can easily lure them away from studies. At home, students find it hard to put down their phones for a second even with the various appealing events. If this occurs at home, imagine what would happen in school when they are burdened with the task of listening to boring and monotonous voices of teachers when the latter is talking about even more boring topics. It would be almost impossible to stop students from gluing their eyes to the screens of their phones.
The opponents also argue that although students’ use of phones in school would reduce the financial burden on the school, it would increase the financial burden on parents. This is because parents would now have to pay double: by paying school fees, they would pay for usage of school computers; they would now, in addition, purchase phone plans and credits for their children. Moreover, parents may also need to buy new phones or pay for repairs of damages caused by other students. Some parents would struggle to cope with the phone-related demands of their children. This is because students would likely compete with one another as to who has a better or higher brand of phone. This unhealthy competition would lead some students to pressure their parents to buy them better phones though the parents may be going through tough financial times.
I am of the view that students should NOT be allowed to use phones in school. This is because, as a student, I know how distracting having my phone in school would be. No matter the advantages the usage of smartphones may have, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Allowing us to have our smartphones in school would be a bad idea. However, I understand the plight of those who are asking for smartphones. The troubles some students go through just to get resources for assignments and projects are much. Instead of allowing smartphones, less distracting and cheaper means of facilitating learning could be put in place. I suggest that intercom telephones be installed in the classroom area to facilitate communication within the school, especially in times of emergency. The school could also ask students to bring their own laptop computers to the school. Laptop computers can do almost anything mentioned above that smartphones can do, but they are much less distracting. With them, there also would be no need for the school administration to worry about students smuggling their devices into classrooms when classes are going on – because any student who does it would be caught immediately. The school could also put in place a better-equipped library where one could do research efficiently by using various textbooks and computers with internet facilities.
By Ezevillo Kamsy Zara
JMC, Class of 2021
This article is a response to a panel discussion in Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt on the subject, “Should students be allowed to use mobile phones in school?” The panelists were the following students: Agu Chiemezie, Dumo-Enoch Olobo, Emeh Upright, Mamman-Da Tareek, Njoku Chizorom, Nuka-Gbarayeghe Kadilo, Obi Ifedinachi, Omenuko Beyonce, Ugweze Chibuikem and Ugwu Kamsky. The team in favour of students’ use of phones in school was led by Nuka-Gbarayeghe Kadilo and Mamman-Da Tareek, and the opposing team was led by Agu Chiemezie and Obi Ifedinachi. After the panel discussion, the author of this article, Ezevillo Kamsy Zara, facilitated another session to bring the leaders of both parties to the agreement. The four leaders and facilitators eventually reached a consensus: students’ use of mobile phones in school should not be allowed.