Do Cell Phones Belong In Schools?

In 1973, the first cell phone call was made. It was a Motorola phone but it took another ten years for the first publicly released cell phone to hit the stores, another Motorola product, the DynaTEC. It was a bargain at a price of just $3,995!

Cell phones the size of Coke bottles were the norm until the Motorola MicroTAC, which had the revolutionary flip down mouth piece in 1989. Motorola lead the industry through the 80s and most of the 90s, releasing the first flip or clamshell phone in 1996.

Until 1998, cell phones had been either beige or black, and while sizes had decreased, the phones were bland. In 1998, Nokia released a range of cell phones available in colours such as red, blue or green. Style had finally reached the cell phone market.

Blackberry’s first product was released in 1999, and was not an actual phone, rather a 2 way pager that had a QWERTY keyboard. It wouldn’t be for another 3 years that a true Blackberry cell phone would be released. Coincidentally, 2002 was also the year that Sanyo debuted their SCP-5300 which boasted a first for the cell phone industry, a built in camera.

five years later, the first iPhone was released.

It is important to understand that while cell phones have been on sale for 30 years, their popularity has really taken off in the last ten years. With the diversity of choice as well as the lower prices and more options such as texting, social media and of course better cameras, cell phones have become an essential part of many people’s lives.

Cell phones are such an essential item that most high school students seem to have them, and this has begun to cause serious issues for the schools. The features that convince students to buy cell phones, or have them bought for them, are the ones that are causing the most trouble.

With the ability to quickly contact multiple friends with one click, cell phones can become a tool for bullying, spreading rumours, organizing altercations, school pranks or illegal activities such as drug deals. Phones ringing in class cause a distraction to all within the class room.

In extreme cases, if the school is in a lockdown, students could contact parents, who rush to the school, and impede the actions of the authorities attempting to control the situation. Even worse, if there was an explosive device, cell phone use might even set off an explosion.

Perhaps the most troubling potential, is the possibility of covert pictures being taken. If a picture is taken in a school changing room, and the subject is under 18, the image could be described as lewd or lascivious. Messaging that picture to friends could be enough to be grounds for charging the student with distribution of a lewd imagery. In extreme cases, could a student be placed on the sex offender register?

All this does raise some questions such as:

If a staff member suspects that a cell phone contains evidence of a crime, cheating or bullying, it is legal to search it? If so, what would the search be restricted to? Email? Text messages? Photographs?

Is there ever a reason that a student should have a cell phone on their person in school?

If a school administrator confiscates a cell phone and it becomes broken or stolen, who is responsible?

If there is a school trip to a different city, should students carry cell phones incase of emergency or even if a student were to get lost?

There are many more questions than answers. School boards have guidelines, rules and regulations, however most simply rely on the individual schools to enforce them. School boards have policies that are common sense but perhaps for today’s schools, it is no longer enough.

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  1. Gary Thomas Shepherd

    I agree there are far more negatives then positives when it comes to students having phones in school. But, I for one, would want my daughter to have her phone (when she’s older) on her at all times, in case of an emergency. If I need to reach her immediately due to an emergency, or perhaps she is lost in the woods, the only guaranteed method for me to, hopefully, reach her is if she has a phone. I will be teaching her responsible phone usage. Cell phones, for her and I, shall be for emergencies primarily. During school hours, she will set it to vibrate. If an iPhone, we shall set it to Do Not Disturb during the day, only allowing phone calls from an emergency group in her contacts list. Heaven forbid I ever need to call her, or she call me.

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