Parents, along with the times, are getting more and more modern. Many of them grew up in a time where calculators were starting be allowed into schools. Others even had access to cool watches that let them secretly play games, and some even kept a pocket game machine with them. That’s not to say that everyone did, or that those who did were always within the rules and guidelines of their schools when doing so, but it’s a different world these days than the one most of our grandparents grew up in.
Back then calculators were considered cheating, and students were expected to be able to tell time by the hands of a clock. In fact, there were many schools that resisted the introduction of digital clocks, as they felt that it would erode the ability of students to tell time, or otherwise undermine what were then considered to be basic fundamentals of education. After all, how best to raise a child like the adult model if not to have them follow in the same guidelines?
No doubt teachers hundreds of years likely felt the same way about sundials, but thankfully times changed and they are changing even more quickly today.
These days the pressing issues is whether children should be able to have mobile phones in schools. Like any question involving children, it’s perhaps best to first define what a child is. By most standards, at least concerning the use of mobile phones, a child is someone from eight years of age and up. Of course, most eight year olds aren’t going to be responsible enough to carry around an iPhone 6 or the latest Google Nexus, but there are wide ranges of mobile phones out there for children. This has caused parents and educators to disagree over the use of phones in schools.
Here are three of the main reasons for these disagreements:
1) Emergency Use: Any parent who has had cause to try and reach their child in an emergency knows just how frustrating it can be to get through the school systems. In fact, educational facilities are nothing if not know for their general lack of technology and fluid communications. Not only that, but a parent or guardian who may be stuck in traffic or otherwise unable to meet a planned pick-up time or function with a child will have no reliable means of communicating. This is particular true if they can’t reach the school and rely on them to relay their message properly. That can leave children feeling a bit lost and confused, and is no end of stress for a parent. Other times there may be an emergency, in which case all of the parents will want to know their children are ok. Obviously not all of the parents will be able to get through to the school at once, in which case giving a mobile to their child is a logical solution to the problem.
2) Cheating on Tests and Distractions: The largest concern of educators is that children who have mobile devices will either use them to cheat on tests, or otherwise disrupt class, distracting themselves and the other children. Ironically the educators having concerns over disruptive behaviour are the most logical of complaints, as both small and large children too often forget to put a mobile on silent or vibrate. This causes them to disrupt class, and is certainly a valid concern. However, cheating on tests is not particularly valid, as students in most cases shouldn’t be having their phones out during tests, and educators should be monitoring them to ensure they aren’t cheating. Unfortunately, too often the school mentality is to do as I say, and not as I do, with many an educator keeping their own mobiles on hand and setting a double standard for children, particularly when they also forget to put their phones on silent, or answer a text or call during class.
3) Theft and Social Issues: This is a concern of both schools and parents, with theft being one that some parents worry over, while educators tend to be more concerned with the prevalence of social bullying. Not having mobiles in school obviously eliminates the worry over device theft, but it prevents parents from communicating with their children, so is usually something parents are willing to risk. On the other hand, educators don’t want the distractions and bullying that social media lets in the door. Not allowing children to have mobiles would prevent some of the more unpleasant scandals we’ve seen involving children and their misuse of social media, but that’s not something educators can realistically protect children from when they are not in school. Not allowing them to have mobiles isn’t a realistic or sustainable protection against social media bullying. It’s also something that too few parents are concerned over, unless it’s their children who are being victimised by another, in which case they tend to side with educators on the issue.
These are just some of the reasons parents and educators are disagreeing on the topic of allowing children to have mobiles in school, but there are others. No doubt as technology progresses, and personal devices like Google Glass become more widespread, there will be new lines drawn in the sand. Then the arguments will shift from mobiles to something else. Obviously schools and mobile operators could just have dead zones, or use GPS fencing, as some social apps do, but for now there seems to be no clear answer that anyone can agree on.