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Phones at School: Positive and Negative Sides


With widespread availability of smartphones, the penetration of technology has reached 95%, with 45% using it constantly for a range of social and entertainment activities (Anderson and Jiang). Anecdotal evidence suggests that students bring smartphones to school and into the classroom, regardless of bans in school policy and teachers attempts to maintain a zero-tolerance policy for phones during instruction, which has created the debate around the use of cellphones at school. Smartphones should be allowed in the classroom as modern technology allows for a variety of digital incorporation of lessons and access to supplemental information that can greatly benefit the educational process for many students and classrooms.

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Incorporating into Lessons

It is challenging to argue against the need for technology integration in the classrooms during the digital age of the 21st century. Many schools around the country have adopted laptop programs for students to use for instruction. However, not all school districts can afford this for every classroom. Meanwhile, with such widespread smartphone penetration, it presents a device with enough computing power to integrate digital lessons and platforms into the learning process. There are a multitude of educational apps, websites, and whole platforms with lessons on virtually any potential subject. These digital tools can be used to both make a lesson more interesting and engaging which foster productivity, as well as providing visual and digital interaction on complex topics or experiments that cannot be afforded or safely performed in the classroom. Meanwhile, many digital platforms and apps allow instructors to track student progress and assess learning needs more easily to further enhance the educational process (Graham).

Access to Supplement Information

Most cell phone devices have access to the Internet, which unlocks the potential to access limitless information. The technology also significantly simplifies the search process via keywords, find on page, and summary functions among others. Considering the research-based curricula of most colleges, and many high schools, it is important to prepare students for the ability to research information. It is part of the modern digital citizenship curricula and an issue that many teachers find pressing is to educate students on the ability to find information on the Internet, be able to critically evaluate its authenticity, and implement it into coursework appropriately. Smartphones are a mobile tool that most people use to find information, integrating them into lessons for this purpose educates students on proper research techniques as well as media literacy and online safety that would not be taught in any other context, thus helping to prepare students for the future (“Smartphones in the Classroom: Helpful or Harmful?”).

Distraction and Interruptions

There is a significant opposition to allowing cellphones in schools under the argument that by virtually removing restrictions on their use, the devices will prove disrupting for both students that are choosing to use cellphones inappropriately as well as students who are seeking to learn, along with teachers. A number of different studies identify cell phones as a massive distraction in educational settings, and large studies analyzing smartphone restrictions in school found increased performance from students. Exam scores increased, benefiting low-performance students the most, while researchers found that without cellphones there is a 62% increase in note-taking activity and better recollection of material, scoring a whole grade better on multiple choice tests. Psychological evaluations discovered that the sole presence of a cellphone, even if put facedown or away can reduce cognitive capacity (Hess).


Despite a negative reputation, smartphones have beneficial uses in schools due to integration of lessons on digital platforms and providing access to information on the Internet. Arguably, distractions and non-educational use of smartphones will persist regardless of their bans at schools as most students will bring the devices for communication and emergency purposes. It is recommended to incentivize educational and proper use of smartphones in the classroom with guided instruction to ensure the most benefit is drawn from the technology in the ongoing digital age.

Works Cited

Anderson, Monica, and JingJing Jiang. “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center, Web.

Graham, Edward. “Using Smartphones in the Classroom.” National Education Association, 2020. Web.

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Hess, Abigail. “Research Continually Shows How Distracting Cell Phones Are—So Some Schools Want to Ban Them.” CNBC, 2019, Web.

“Smartphones in the Classroom: Helpful or Harmful?” U.S. Cellular, 2020, Web.

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