Home » Literacy » Cellphones in Schools, the Grand Debate

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Lazarus Dokora has recently defended the decision to allow cellphones in schools, and rightly so. One however, cannot ignore the naysayers as they do raise important concerns. What would be prudent is for us to look at some of the pros and cons and find reasonable solutions to possible fears.

We live in an information age where knowledge of zeros and ones and how to manipulate them is fast becoming an essential part of one’s existence.

Technology is aancing at a rapid rate and those that create and understand it have a unique aantage in our growing global village. Take for example the fact that mobile application developers are amassing fortunes overnight.

In 2012 Instagram as picture sharing social media app sold to Facebook for $1 billion. Currently Snapchat, another social media app, is looking to be valued at $19 billion. These apps were both created specifically for cellphone and tablet users by individuals well versed in binary who probably spent hours understanding the technology and what it is people are looking to do with it.

Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, famously said “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The technology we have today is a testament to that and allowing children regular access to all kinds of tech can only help them to one day come up with that billion dollar idea.

One fact that we cannot ignore is that children already have cell phones and use them at home. Some from as young as 10 years old. Children also regularly bring their phones to school. When I was in school we used to come up with enterprising ways of concealing our phones in school uniform.

The fact that a large number of students have cellphones and would bring them to school illegally should not be ignored. By allowing them, schools can keep track of cellphone possession and usage better.

Not all schools have access to computers for all students and allowing cellphones is an alternative. As I already mentioned, in this information age understanding technology is essential and with a cell phone and an internet connection one literally has the world at their fingertips.

There are however those that are adamant about not allowing cell phones in schools for a number of reasons. A concern that has often been raised is pornography. There is a fear that if children are allowed cell phones it increases the risk of them being exposed to pornographic material on the internet.

Although not a trivial concern, we should note that most children already have cell phones, are tech savvy and use them at home where they have unrestricted access. Anything that a child is doing at school she is probably already doing at home.

What is necessary is for parents and teachers to carefully monitor what children are doing on their phones. Unrestricted access is the problem and not the cell phones. Schools need to restrict their internet and ensure certain websites are blocked.

Regular and random inspections of phones both at home and at school will act as a g deterrent to children who wish to venture to prohibited websites.

Others have argued that having cell phones in schools will make children lazy to think as they will rely on their phones for everything. I disagree with think sentiment and believe it will only make children think differently. Technology is here to aid us to work more efficiently and working with it and understanding it is only to our aantage.

There are concerns that both schools and parents should take head of. One of those deals with the different types of cell phones available. Some children come from privileged backgrounds and have access to the latest iPhones, Samsung Galaxys and other expensive brands.

Having a child with a $1000 phone while another has a $30 phone could lead to some children being envious of others and create inferiority complexes and class divisions among children.

A possible way to avoid this is to have a “perceived value” cap of say $50 on the phones allowed in schools. This creates a parity that works in a similar way to a school uniform where students regardless of financial situation and social background are virtually the same.

Cyber bullying is potentially the biggest worry of cell phones in schools.

Source : The Herald