There is a difference between “having” a cell phone in class and “using” a cell phone in class. Having a cell phone in class can be beneficial under the right circumstances, but using one in class should be strictly forbidden except in true emergency circumstances. Most young children do not have cell phones, but most teens and college students do. Therefore, this argument against cell phone use in class will focus on the largest groups of cell phone users: high school and college students.
“Having” a cell phone in class is actually a good idea. It can be available to call for help if an emergency situation happens (remember Columbine?). However, students’ cell phones should always be turned off and left in their book bags while in class. As a matter of fact, many colleges even forbid the possession of cell phones in testing centers because of the risk of cheating. It can be very tempting to text someone for answers to exam questions and gives an unfair advantage to those allowed to do so. This type of cheating ultimately hurts the student. After all, what are they really learning if they don’t have to think for themselves? Having a cell phone turned off during class hours keeps external and distracting influences out of the classroom, thereby facilitating more focus and a greater learning environment. One can always turn the cell phone on during lunch or between classes in order to retrieve messages from home or work if needed. In the event of a true emergency, the cell phone is available for use as well.
“Using” a cell phone in class is an entirely different scenario than just having one in class. Instead of actively participating in listening and discussions, students are tempted to text with their friends or even receive calls, disrupting the entire learning environment. This can be very frustrating to students who really want to learn, as well as to teachers who really want to teach. No student needs to receive calls during class! If there is a real family emergency, mom or dad can do exactly what they did in the pre-cell phone days: call the school office and ask for their child to be summoned to the office. There, the student can either be authorized to use the phone to call home or use the office phone to speak with his or her parent. There is no valid reason for students to be using cell phones in class. If a student is using a cell phone in class, they are either distracting others, ignoring the lessons, cheating, or simply goofing off with games.
Cell phones are an invaluable resource in today’s world, but there is a time and place where their use is appropriate. Using a cell phone in a classroom is inappropriate because there is no good reason to justify it. That cell phone will still be available for more appropriate use before class, between classes, or after class is finished. Cell phone use in the class should be uniformly banned.