A Realistic Look at the Cell Phone Ban

Saturday, February 09, 2013
By Mahgul Mansoor

In the lives of many students, technology and communications have made portable devices very accessible. These technological advances have become increasingly important in our everyday lives.

Whether it is an iPod, laptop, kindle, or a cell phone, almost every student is carrying some sort of electronic device.

For many students, this technological addiction is to their cell phones. In an era where students are inclined to send a text, Instagram bathroom graffiti, or update their Facebook status at every chance they can get, the ban on cellphones is met with reluctance.

Daniel Baldwin, an English teacher, understands why the rule is tough to follow. He says, “There is something addictive about being umbilically tied to one’s cell phone… Students who consider themselves good kids (and who are seen as good kids by the adults in the building) do not follow the DOE rule that bans the use of cell phones in schools because they don’t see that the rule makes any sense.”

Baldwin explains that when rules don’t make sense to those who are supposed to follow them, the rules are difficult to carry out. However, this understanding doesn’t mean his class is cell phone friendly. He, like most teachers, understands the ban.

“There is logic to cell phone use being banned in school. By the very nature of their distracting qualities, cell phones are harmful to the academic environment,” he commented. “Also, don’t forget that cell phones were used in the cheating scandal at Stuyvesant High School, where students passed answers to Regents questions to fellow students, in real time, while both parties were taking the Regents.”

David Jin ’15 presents a possible solution to cell phones being used for cheating. “Cell phones should be collected at the front of the room during tests to prevent cheating. My teachers are generally lenient with cell phone usage and don’t mind as long as the work gets done. [Some] of my teachers allow me to use my phone for class related purposes. As I said, it’s about getting the work done. Once the work is finished, there’s no reason not to use it.”

The 21st century has brought remarkable changes in technology, as well as incredible developments to the cell phone. With the introduction of internet service to the handheld device, students are now able to use cellphones to do schoolwork. They can use the internet to check their grades on Skedula, review deadlines on Moodle, or simply use Google to verify a fact.

Instead of bringing in printed material, some teachers allow students to bring documents on any electronic reader.

Michelle Mindel ‘14 said, “My English teacher lets us use our phones if we can’t print something out for his class. It’s a nice policy because not everyone can print twenty or so pages of material. It’s also lighter on the backpack.”

Even though phones are now being used in unconventional ways in the classroom, the school policy regarding cellphone use remains the same. It reads, “ELECTRONIC DEVICES ARE NOT PERMITTED IN SCHOOL. i.e. cellphones, iPods, Gameboys, DVD, CD players. If a student is found with an electronic device it will be confiscated. A parent conference will be held. The device will be returned to the parent only.”

Many teachers still uphold the policy as is.
Health teacher Staci Patti stated, “I basically have an ‘out of sight and sound’ policy. Students should not have it in class, [I give] one warning and then I take it. Cellphones distract students from education, but it would be unrealistic to not accept the fact that almost everyone has one.”

Marie Manuto Brown, an English teacher, says that cellphones aren’t much of a problem in her class and students are generally courteous about putting their phones away. “However, if a student were to disrupt the class with their phone or other electronic device, I would be grateful for the ban that allows me to confiscate it.”

Even though Tech is a technology based school, it has not fully yet embraced the idea of allowing electronic devices to roam the halls along with students.

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