Should schools be allowed to block cell phone voice and data service?I am trying to help my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. I'd like a variety of opinions and sources,...

Should schools be allowed to block cell phone voice and data service?I am trying to help my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. I'd like a variety of opinions and sources, please! Thanks in advance. :)

Asked on by litteacher8

19 Answers

dwbettine's profile pic

dwbettine | Middle School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Interesting question...however, let me rephrase it just a bit and see if any opinions change.

As educators, think of the costs associated with provided technology in secondary education. The capital expense, the upkeep, network costs, damage, loss, etc. Computers become outdated, damaged, obsolete. Most school districts are required to run levys or bonds to acquire computers that become outdated before they are even installed and running. Most schools can only provide computers in special computer labs and maybe schools have 2 or 3 labs for use. It's even worse in each classroom where perhaps there are half a dozen units. Certainly not enough for each student. Using them becomes a management nightmare.

Now consider this: what if I showed you a way where EVERY student can have their own computer in class? What if I told you there would be no cost to the school district? No updating, no maintainance costs, no liability for damage or loss? Sound too good to be true? Well, that's exactly what a smart phone is. A computer more powerful than most desktops of only a few short years ago.

The challenge, of course, is helping students (and parents) understand the appropriate use of this technology. Like it or not, as long as there is electricity, students will have cell phones. Trying to limit their use is as fruitless as trying to eliminate gum chewing. Better to establish the proper way to use them than trying to limit them. Get on board or be left behind, I think.

boblawrence's profile pic

boblawrence | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

I feel that it should be illegal for anyone  to block cell phone service, schools included. Sometimes I wish that restaurants could jam cell phone service to thwart those rude people who insist on having loud, personal phone conversations while the rest of us are trying to enjoy our meal.  But blocking service isn't the answer.  Schools and restaurants, among other venues, should have strict cell phone use policies.  In the case of schools, the enforcement is by the teacher.  In restaurants, it is by a sign or a note on the menu requesting courtesy to other diners.

It is a safety issue.  Today, almost everyone carries a cell phone.  Therefore, in an emergency, at school or anywhere else, the authorities can be quickly notified.

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes, in testing situations.  One local community college has equipped its classrooms with switches in which they can shut down reception in their classroom during an exam.  What a difference this ability to keep phones quiet and to prevent copying of exams, searching for the answers, etc. has made.  It is a happier faculty there, now.

megan-bright's profile pic

megan-bright | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Schools should absolutely not be able to block cell phone voice and data services. People do have a life outside of school, and as a mom, I certainly want to be able to check my cell phone to make sure my baby's daycare (and school when she gets older) has not called because she had bcome ill or something. It's the same thing for my husband, I need to glance at my phone to make sure he has not had an emergency. Even without emergencies, sometimes we may need to simply communicate about some other important things.


ophelious's profile pic

ophelious | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

No, I don't think so.  As much as I would like to see it happen, considering how annoying phones are in class, only the FCC is allowed to regulate communications of this sort.  If schools are allowed to do this, than why not churches (how horrible is a ringing cell phone in the middle of a sermon?)  Why not libraries?  When you give organizations the power to jam communication signals you are setting a dangerous precedent.  Just look what happened when they shut down those cell phones in the subway to prevent a "protest" out in California (or wherever it was.)

Better for schools to create effective policies regarding cell phones, or better yet, ban them.  I can't tell you how much time was wasted at my school by kids looking for phones they misplaced, or how many fights were started because one kid swears another stole his phone.

pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

Liability is a huge issue for schools. Everything we do must first and above all help to assure the physical safety of the children in our care. That said, yes, we should be blocking cell use. No one is sure yet whether radiation from cell phones is a health hazard, so it would be far wiser to err on the side of caution. Adults can and do make decisions that they know put their health at risk, but that is their prerogative as adults.

For schools and for individual teachers, one of the key elements of liability is the "forseeability" of a consequence. For instance, a science teacher can sometimes be held liable if a student steals a chemical from a lab and then gets hurt by it later; the court's test is whether the teacher should have foreseen the possibility of the student stealing the material or not. I would rather not see schools being sued in the future for failure to protect children from the (admittedly small) risk that cell phones may pose to their health. Cell phones can be disruptive in school, and are not necessary to the educational process, so it's an easy case for a lawyer to make.

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

This is a new problem that is of deep-seated interest. While it is true that technology accessible through mobile phones can be used judiciously to enhance education, it is also true that the present tendencies toward self-indulgence and self-regulation of a middling quality generates both the potential and reality of disruptive behaviors and situations. Since both these dichotomous conditions exist in the same environment and both must be given due and high priority attention, it seems that new technology is the only way to control new technological dilemmas.

For instance, a filter that automatically activates within a certain proximity and radius might be developed that (1) recognizes emergency calls and texts from cleared and authorized originating numbers; (2) turns off all personal contact capability other than that which is cleared and authorized (which may include doctor's offices etc); (3) allows open access to a range of cleared and authorized academic/educational resources (e.g., museums and the Library of Congress) and websites (with eNotes at the top of the list!); (4) allows other authorized mobile technologies that may enhance the educational aims, objectives, and goals of a teacher, course, or school (e.g., e-texts and mathematical calculation functions). This technology would, of course exclude social networking sites (except perhaps the school's social networking site's announcement and information pages and possibly a variety of college's and university's announcement and information pages). Sooo--where is the new Bill Gates to develop this technology??

brettd's profile pic

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

Posted on

In a word, yes.  Just as we can search backpacks, lockers and cars without a warrant in the interests of school safety, I also think we should be able to block cell phone service.  Parents have a method of contacting students at school, just as they did before there were ever cell phones: they call the office and send a message when it's least disruptive.  I don't think, contrary to popular opinion, parents have a right to contact their students whenever they want to. 

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

My first response is that "No!" this should not be done. But I have seen for myself how disruptive ringing cell phones can be in class, and I believe that under some circumstances, this should probably be an option for some schools or districts. Most schools allow cell phone useage outside the classroom and in-between classes, and if students would follow these guidelines--turning the cells off and refusing to use them during class--this question would not even arise.

stolperia's profile pic

stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

No, I don't think schools should be able to block cellphone service altogether. There are legitimate application possibilities for incorporating cellphones into classroom activities for research purposes. There may be rare instances when cellphone communications are of benefit to those in a school setting. The key is finding means of creating and enforcing guidelines regarding when and where are the appropriate times for the cellphones to be out and active.

larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Cell phones can be disruptive to the school environment; however blocking incoming or outgoing cell phone calls can perhaps be too drastic a solution. In the all to common event of a weather emergency or (heaven forbid) intruders on campus, any parent's first thought will be the safety of his/her child. It is highly doubtful that the parent will have the schools switchboard number on speed dial; let alone be able to get through; however the push of a button will allow the parent to speak to his/her child. In instances in which schools have prohibited cell phones at school, parents raised the most vociferous objection because it denied them immediate access to their children. Obviously, there are ways around this, and oftentimes parents are the worst abusers of cell phone calls/text messages during class time. However, to prohibit them, or block the signal is perhaps to burn down the house to roast the pig.

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

Posted on

Just for the sake of playing devil's advocate, I completely disagree with this. Let us remember that cell phones are part of emerging technologies that are incredibly important to students. What we shouldbe doing is trying to harness their fondness for such technologies by using cell phones and their technology and incorporating them in class. This can be something that can greatly help learning.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Yes, I think that they should.  Cell phones and other such devices can be seriously disruptive of the learning environment.  Therefore, schools should have the right to regulate them and block them if need be.  That said, I would definitely argue that they should not block them completely.  There must be some way that students can make calls after school so there would need to be a good way to turn the blocking on and off.

crystaltu001's profile pic

crystaltu001 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

I think that it varies in different situations. Sometimes when people are in class and they are doing their work and sometimes doing tests then yes phones should be blocked and not be out and people shouldn't be using them. But sometimes during free time people should be allowed to take their phones out and use them.

bhawanipur's profile pic

bhawanipur | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Now a days parents are very much worried about security of their children and that is why they all give a cell ohone to ech of them to keep a track on them. Man has become like machine, we have no time to stand and stare rather than running behind money and power. There are hardly guardians to guide but parents to provide all facilities to their children without giving a thought of its after efect.

In India, there is a verdict of the Supreem court not to allow college students to carry cell phone inside the college premises. Its because they remain engaged in various matter other than study even not attending their classes.

I think, let students carry their phone to schools or colleges but should be kept in custody outside the class rooms and should be given to them after the school hour so that their parents can have contacts with them.

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