Cell Phones in the ClassroomStudents are heading back to school. Most will be told to keep their cell phones out of sight. Does your school have a policy like this? Do you think students should...

Cell Phones in the Classroom

Students are heading back to school. Most will be told to keep their cell phones out of sight. Does your school have a policy like this? Do you think students should have access to cell phones in the classroom? Are cell phones more helpful or harmful in the classroom? Give examples.

33 Answers

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

My school has a no-cell policy, and it is an ongoing battle with both students and parents as well. They are certainly a distraction, and I have run across another interesting problem with them. We are a one-to-one laptop school, and because of our computer dependency we have a good Internet filtering system in place. Some of the students have 3GS phones, and they can link their laptops to their cell phones to get around the building Internet filter, committing a double violation of school policy that is hard to catch.


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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

We have a no-phone policy in the classroom, but as a practical matter I only care about them if I see or hear them. It's ridiculous that parents know the policy, sign off on the policy, and still expect their students to answer their texts during the school day. I agree with my colleagues who see cell phones as nothing but a distraction in the classroom; however, I think any school who bans them from the premises will have a major battle on their hands. Parents says they want to be able to stay in touch with their kids in case something "big" happens. The truth is that they want to be able to stay in touch for their own convenience.

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I fear cellphones are going to be a continuing source of irritation and conflict. They could be appropriately and constructively used at some times in some situations - we've mentioned use as calculators, those with cameras could be used to document experiments or presentations, in some cases they can provide internet access for reference purposes.

The problems come in because not all students have phones that are capable of supporting the needed programs and because many students will not recognize when it is time to use the phone for acceptable reasons and when it is time to turn it off and put it away. The nature of being a student (maybe of being human) is to see how far you can push the envelope - cell phones provide another area for testing the boundaries.

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I agree with posts # 5 and 6 that cell phones are a huge distraction to learning, aside from any benefit they may offer. My school has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on cell phones. Technically, the students are not to have them at all, although everyone knows that they do. As long as they are turned off and kept out of sight, there is no issue; however if a teacher sees a cell phone or notices a student surreptitiously texting, the teacher is required to confiscate the phone. On first offense, the phone will be returned to a parent (not the kid); second offense the phone is retained until the end of the grading period, third offense it is retained until the end of the school year. Strangely, even though they know the phone will be taken one way or another, many kids refuse to give the phone to the teacher. In that instance, an administrator is required to intervene, which results in administrative discipline for the student. Students use them with abandon to cheat, text their friends across the building, take/send embarrassing pictures, etc. The whole time they are not engaged in the learning process. Ironically, I have found that parents are the chief offenders about calling students in class, which to me sets an amazingly poor example. I don't buy the idea that cell phones are useful for students to access the Internet. Almost every school has computers available where students can access material and also be properly supervised. it's impossible to supervise their cell phone use.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

We have a policy that allows cell phones to be "on the person" but should be turned off. We gave up on the idea that the phone had to be in a locker because what were we going to do -- search everyone's backpack?   It is incredibly frustrating to have a policy that is nearly impossible to enforce.  Students who want to be sneaky and text their friends will do it -- and get away with it -- because I can't possibly do my job and keep an eye on where 30 sets of hands are at all times.  I think the phones are a huge distraction to learning, but I don't know of a viable solution.  I think figuring out ways to embrace them is probably easier.

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bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Leaving off the possibility that students may cheat with their cell phones, at the very least they are a huge distraction to learning.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been trying to have a class discussion, or been lecturing and noticed students texting under their desks.  I have to stop what I am doing, take the cell phone, and resume...probably 2-3 times per class period.  Then I have to turn it over to the principal...and sometimes deal with parents who get mad that I confiscated an expensive piece of equipment.  I have even had phones go off and had parents be on the other end of the line "just calling in to remind the student of something."

I see no need for cell phones in the classroom...as we give each student a laptop...so they have plenty of access to the internet and research.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I don't really see the benefit of having cell phones in the classroom.  I realize that they could be used to look things up on the internet, but I do not think that this is something that needs to happen on anything like a regular basis in the classroom.  Classrooms (at least where I teach) have at least a couple of computers that are connected to the internet and that students can use.  Cell phones in the classroom are much more likely to be used for improper purposes.  Therefore, I think the downside of allowing them by far outweighs any potential benefit.

literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

My school has a strict policy on cell phones. They are allowed to be in the building, but must be placed in the locker from first bell to last.

As for harm in the classroom, many of us have seen (or heard about) videos and pictures taken at schools which are an invasion of privacy, meant to embarrass, and/or used to bully or defame. I do not feel as though cell phones have a place in schools based upon the history of negative use.

As for helpful evidence, cell phones can be used (as stated above) to help students with school. It is only in this way that I think they could be a positive tool in the classroom.


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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

My school does allow cell phone, but not in classrooms. We don't have a strict no cell policy. I also encourage kids to use their phone in certain circumstances, to look things up and even to use the calculator quickly. We really don't have problems. I've even had them read snooks on smart phones.
Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

In my schools we're allowed to have cell phones. However, we're not allowed to use them during class. That said, some teachers are more relaxed than others. My physics teacher has a strict no phone policy. My lit and english teachers never minded if we were on our phones or not.

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mslopez93 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Im a student at a Broadcasting and Digital media magnet school. Therefore only in certain classes I'am allowed to use my phone but only to either confirm an interview or any "business" type of situation. I agree that it is a distraction but I also contradict myself because I belive that seniors in High school should be allowed to learn how to use technology such as their phones to their advantage.

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lolguys | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

Cell phones today allow users to do so much more than just a few years ago. Students can use their cell phones to write and send text messages, take and send digital photos, and even take and send short digital video clips, in addition to making phone calls. Nearly all of the uses can become inappropriate and undesirable in middle and high school classrooms.

The key problems

Sending friends text messages during class time. Sending or receiving test answers. Bullying or harassment via unwanted text messaging. Taking and distributing inappropriate digital photos of students.


i agree totally there even has been a few minor bullying incidents through tella-communications

lolguys's profile pic

lolguys | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I partly agree with "pacorz Teacher High School - 12th Grade Associate Editor, Debater, Expert, Educator". That maybe true but not all schools are as priveliged as private schools and may have a fallacious atmosphere and do not help or take care of the students even in the case of injury, from bullying etc, in which case a phone would help benefit the student such as contacting their parents or in emergency situations medical aassitance.     However, as stated above phones are a makor distraction and I support this statement as I too am a Yr 8 High school student with a phone (disregard my profile please the lowest grade was yr 9) and may cause lowering of grades and create a problem during class. However my opinion is the phone should be allowed to be brought to school as there are more good points then the ill points, this is my opinion and everyone is entitled to their own opnions and I sincerely aplogise for any offence it may cause to anyone).

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blakedicarlo | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

i think its completely fine, as long as no harm is being done and using it durring tests or quizes or when others are speaking, if you choose to risk getting good marks by not doing homework it is up to you but also does little harm used appropriatly

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riot174 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Honors

Posted on

Even before my school's new cell phone policy I had always kept my phone on silent. I agree with #19 what if there is an emergency? So yeah cell phones should be allowed to be kept on but only if silent.

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