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Student Feature: Why Cellphones Should Be Banned In Middle School

Laurin Gschwenter (Grade 8), American International School Vienna
Student Feature: Why Cellphones Should Be Banned In Middle School

It’s a Friday afternoon. I have social studies class… boring. I’m supposed to do a task on zoomin. Instead, I take out my phone, stand up and sit someplace where my professor can’t notice me. Instantly, my other mate takes his phone out too. We sink into a multiplayer game called Fortnite. We ignore everything around us. Suddenly our teacher catches us, and we are forced to hand our phones in. She tells us that we can pick them up after school from the principal. The end bell rings. My friend and I run down to the principal's room. He is about to let us go, but then he orders us not to take our phones to school anymore. According to the article “Should Schools Allow Cell Phone Use During the School Day?”, “there are drawbacks and benefits for cell phone use. School administrators, teachers, parents, and students continue to struggle with policies on cell phone use in schools since a complete ban is no longer universally accepted as best policy.” Which do you believe? Is it a drawback or a benefit to have a phone in class? For two decades now, children have brought their smartphones to school. It’s become a routine; it’s like bringing your pencil case to school each day. Recently even more students own and bring their device to school. It can have a positive impact on adolescence. The Android phone has a variety of apps; they offer more than 2.8 million apps for everyone to use. The Apple store has about 2.2 million apps available to use. There is a massive selection of education apps. Learning apps such as Babbel, BrainPop or Quizlett can help you at school. Students can also take notes, make recordings and make reminders on their phones with their built-in apps. All those things can help them study more efficient at home. However, this argument overlooks the negative aspects of cellphones at school. The negative side of having phones on you during school is that your personal object can get stolen merely from your locker or bag. Furthermore, kids bully each other using phones; even at school. Cyberbullying is a tremendous issue in our society. According to, “more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online. Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have repeatedly been bullied through their cell phones or the Internet.” On every single phone, there is a camera which can lead to harassing students. The camera doesn’t allow the students to have privacy. Though, the camera can also help students cheat during a test. This paper will argue that cellphones should not be allowed in the classroom. There seems to be no end to the controversy about having phones in school. In “Cell phones in school?” From the article Scholastic (2010) begins by describing an incident at a school in Illinois where there was a locker room theft, including an incident in which 50 combination locks were cut, and cell phones were stolen. The school encouraged the students to leave their cellphones at home since school policy doesn't allow security cameras in the locker room. Recently, at the American International School Vienna in grade eight, there was a similar incidence. A girl, who wants to remain anonymous, left her locker open one school day. After lunch, she didn’t see her phone in the cabin. Some anonymous person took her iPhone X and destroyed the camera and the display. The next day, the phone was found in the band room shredded. The reader sees that phones in some schools could get stolen. This proves my point that; it is a dangerous risk bringing an expensive technology gadget to school. However, according to the same article, 60% of the students in America are willing to take the risk of bringing their phone to school because they believe “using their phones would improve technology at their school.” There are many reasons why cell phones in middle school should stay at home rather than at school. Think about the negatives about cellphones in middle school such as disrupting class. In the article, “Should Schools Allow Cell Phone Use During the School Day?”, “disrupting class with texting, playing video games, inappropriately using the photography feature, or receiving calls can affect students’ class participation grades.“ Carrie Spector (2018), a contributing journalist, for would agree with the article, “Should Schools Allow Cell Phone Use During the School Day?”, As she argues: “That’s partly why changing our relationship with devices in the classroom feels so difficult. It’s fundamentally about shifting attention: If children are giving more attention to this device, then it seems the teacher has lost control.” Another negative about using cell phones in middle school is related to the travel time between breaks from one classroom to the next classroom. Sarah Dewey, a reporter from Bg Falcon Media, believes that: “A very large portion of the student population seems to have [cellphones] and use them travelling between classes”. During this time it’s disrupting to have phones because the students don’t have enough time to gather their materials if they are constantly looking at their phones and social media. This in-return may lead to being late for class and not being prepared with the necessary material; they don’t use their time efficiently which is disruptive to them and others. Now yes, cell phones are part of everybody's toolkit nowadays. By the time the students are in university, they can ignore the interruptions, but the truth is when you hear a beep a middle schooler is not concentrated or on task. Sarah Dewey quotes Junior Brandy Miller in her article “Cell Phones Disrupt Classes”. "Miller think it's funny when cell phones ring during class because people get embarrassed. But if it rings like three times, then it gets annoying.” This illustrates that cellphones in schools are annoying to the individual and the classmates around them. Is it worth bringing your phone to class? Is it fair that a student interrupts the class with their electronic devices? Cellphones in middle school don’t just distract in class, but the cellphone also tempts students to cheat. In fact, the article “Poll: U.S. Teens Say Cheating Widespread” from states that “among 12- to 14-year-olds, 23 percent admit cheating; that rises to 36 percent of kids age 15-17, and, as noted, peaks at 43 percent of those age 16-17.” However, a cell phone performs many of the functions of a computer. For instance, students take advantage when the teacher isn’t paying attention or not looking at the class. Even though phones are strictly forbidden during tests, teachers don’t investigate every child before a test. This could lead to taking out a camera and making a quick picture. After school, the test is spread to everyone in the grade. Karlee Cysewski, English teacher, Ririe, Idaho agrees with this and quotes that: “On social media especially, I think some students just see cheating as ‘sharing,’ And they think it is something good and worthwhile – especially if they see themselves as helping a classmate who is stressed out. They’re being a good friend.” As mentioned beforehand, there are 2.8 billion apps on the android store and 2.2 billion on the apple store. In the article “Is it cheating for students to use homework apps?”Amy Iverson (2017) stated that “apps now exist in our digital world that can take nearly any homework question or problem and solve it instantly, leaving parents and students with the decision whether or not to use these apps.” Certain apps, such as Photomath, can help any student during a test by quickly taking a snapshot of the problem. Voila, in just seconds, the phone provides you with the solution. Some may think that cheating can be prevented, but it turns out that even though teachers try many different methods to avoid it, there is always a way. There is another purpose why cell phones should stay at home. Cellphones in middle school don’t just distract class and make you cheat, but the cellphone also makes you anti-social. “The next time you’re waiting to get in your next class, take your eyes off your phone for 10 seconds and take a look around: how many people are busy texting away? How many people are standing right next to someone but are so absorbed in their own mobile conversations that they don’t notice the other person? Do they actually look up when people start heading into the classroom or do they just shuffle along, eyes glued to the tiny screen? It’s kind of sad, really” declared Erin Gitchell in the article “Cell Phones Promote antisocial behaviour” (2009). In fact in our school two years ago the teachers in middle school made a Tech-Free-Zone rule where students in Middle School weren’t allowed to be on their cellphones from 8:00 to 15:15. A teacher explained to me that the purpose was to promote talking to each other face-to-face and to have personal conversations which are a lifelong skill. It made kids go off technology and get their materials. She also told me that many students lose their phones. There is a point to be made that cell phones help us connect with each other. Even so, the evidence is clear that too much time with digital devices separates students from face-to-face, family, nature and social activities. Digital tools in the classroom could lead to an even more significant disconnection. You think it’s crazy? Buckle up your seatbelt. According to “Why Don’t We Talk Anymore?” by Sophia A. Nelson (2014), “we simply do not talk anymore. We text. We email. We post on Facebook. We tweet on Twitter. And it is destroying our ability to effectively communicate in our work relationships, in our marriages, in our dating life, in our relationships with our friends, kids, nieces and nephews, with our parents, and our siblings.” Are you convinced? It’s my next social studies class after a long week break. As I walk into class there is a pocket system on the door. I gasp. I see my teacher walk in my direction. She explains to me I must deposit my phone in one of the pockets; so I followed the instructions. I am researching on my laptop on emotional impacts of losing a cell phone during class. I came upon a statistic chart from Aschley Rodriguez (2016) from “Emotional Impact Of Losing A Connected Device”. Which you can see above. Laurin Gschwenter is now a Grade 9 student at American International School Vienna, Austria. References Cell phones in school? (2010). Should Schools Allow Cell Phone Use During the School Day? Cyber Bullying Statistics (2004-2010). Cell phones disturb classes (2003). Aschley, R (2016). Emotional Impact Of Losing A Connected Device. Dalia, S (2018). Poll: U.S. Teens Say Cheating Widespread. Carrie, S(2018). Stanford education professor makes a case for bringing mobile devices into the classroom. Delaney, R (2017). Smartphones aren't a smart choice in middle school. Zach, M (2009). One Third of Teens Use Cellphones to Cheat in School. Amy, I (2017). Is it cheating for students to use homework apps? Audie, C (2017). How Smartphones Are Making Kids Unhappy. Sophia, N. (2014)Why Don’t We Talk Anymore? Cell Phones At School English Language Essay (2015)

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09/27/2018 - :)
This is awesome!