The 'flip' side of cell phones in school

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Because they are so new and ubiquitous, we hear a lot about the down side of smart phones.

People are addicted to them. They have their nose in the screen when they should be watching where they are walking or, worse, driving.

There are possible health risks, and despite the proliferation of “social media,” are driving more people to isolation and loneliness.

Like any media from stone tablets and parchment of ancient times, through radio and television and the internet, they can be used to spread lies and hateful, negative messages.

Thankfully, they, like any media, can also be powerful tools for spreading truth, hope and encouragement, keeping in touch with family and friends and making our lives better.

Many societal issues seem to be amplified when they move into the classroom, and cellphones are no different.

Schools and teachers have policies ranging from no restrictions at all, to policies allowing some cellphone use, to outright bans.

In the end, smart phones, like clay tablets, typewriters and laptops, are simply tools to make learning and communication possible. Only through self-discipline can those tools be used to create an actual education.

Most schools and colleges have their own websites and apps to help students receive that education, but additional apps can help students keep track of their homework assignments and deadlines, and allow parents to monitor their progress as well.

Apps and websites like Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive are helpful for taking notes, tracking tasks and sharing information with teachers and classmates working on projects.

Every phone comes with a digital calendar that can track and share upcoming deadlines, school events, appointments, meetings and sports and music practices.

Have trouble keeping up with a teacher’s lecture? Use your smartphone to record it and use your phone’s camera to snap a photo of notes on the blackboard of policies allow.

There’s nothing like visiting a library to help with a homework assignment, but unlimited information is available through a smartphone’s internet connection, provided you verify the accuracy and source of the information.

Of course, cell phones can be an irresistible temptation to students who would rather be gaming or messaging with friends, and that’s where the self-discipline comes in.

Save the gaming and social media for after the bell rings.

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