Bringing Cell Phones and Social Media Back to School

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 18th Aug 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1v4-b1_c/
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

Adults use cell phones to communicate with loved ones every day. Yet we tell students to quit talking, put the phones away, and pay attention in class. I think our mixed message does a disservice to today's young people.

Happy First Day Back to School, for Many

For my neighborhood, it’s back to school for parents and students who have been home on summer vacation since May/June. My child is entering middle school after being homeschooled last semester, so I’m really feeling nervous for him and wishing I could talk to him throughout the day. I have seen so many first day of school pictures via social media that I know were taken on cell phones. I know adults are using cell phones to stay connected. It’s sad that our growing children cannot do the same during school.

Years ago, when my husband had his first day on the job, he called me at lunch to let me know things were going well. When we were both working, we left each other messages and listened to them during breaks. Nothing major – just messages to say we cared. These days, we text each other. Often. And we call. Often. Though our conversations are very brief, when we get home at the end of each day, we know the little things. If there’s been a bad day, we know ahead of time, and little problems can wait until bigger issues are talked through and resolved. We talk and discuss things that need further talk or discussion at home in the evenings, but we are attuned to each other throughout the day. Constant open communication has positively affected our relationship. The high importance placed on cell phones and social media informs me that other adults are making these important connections.

Image this section: My son's first day Back to School, with all his stuff. His cell phone, turned off, is in his backpack.

Arguments for Allowing Cell Phone Usage at School

At school, however, students are strongly discouraged from using cell phones – my son’s school’s rule is for phones to be OFF and kept in the locker during school hours. While I understand the rationale, schools need to accept that parents who have been using the cell phones to foster independence while still maintaining knowledge of their students’ activities all summer long are now asked to go eight or more hours with no knowledge of their student’s day. A quick text from them at lunch, between classes, or at some other point in the day could let parents know what to expect from their child when s/he arrives home.

Therefore, having a cell phone on a student’s person could be vital in a school day.

With the ban in place, students in trouble who need help cannot use their cell phones to get that help (medical issue in the bathroom, bullying situation, intruder situation/stranger danger situation, school shooting).

Requiring students to keep cell phones in lockers encourages theft.

But the most important reason not to restrict cell phone usage at school is much more minor – yet has a much bigger impact on the psyches of our young people as they become adults.

Image this section: This is a selfie my son took and sent me to let me know where he was one day. It reflects his off-beat personality, involves him without putting any friends at risk (some parents do not want their children's pictures texted or online), and though the image may mean nothing to most people, I knew exactly where he was. This selfie was like a secret password between us, and I loved it.

Sharing the Little Moments

Our worlds today are made up of so many little moments – things that aren’t as awesome (or horrible) 10 minutes after we choose to FB, Google +, or Tweet about them. For a younger person who has been texting all summer, eight hours without the device is equivalent to any other kind of withdrawal – then add the rigors of education after a long holiday. At the end of the day, deprivation could taint the entire experience. As adults, when we leave our cell phone at our desk over lunch, or in our briefcase during a meeting, are we able to concentrate more fully – or do we feel we are missing something? Now imagine that feeling in a less mature body.

I saw so many wonderful first day back to school pictures on social media this morning. I know Mommas and Dads are proud of their young people. I feel a solidarity with them – especially as our children get older and it is no longer cool to walk them to their classrooms, which means we don’t get to see our neighbors like we did in Kindergarten days. We lament the decline of family dinners, but fail to acknowledge the positive connections we’ve had all summer – seeing how our young people view themselves through “selfies” – engaging with our young people because we want the world to know we do.

Image this section: I took this picture of my husband and son clowning around this summer. Amazing how a smartphone device can bring out the silliness in people. I love this picture!

A Missed Opportunity

It seems schools are missing an opportunity here – perhaps limiting phone usage is a mistake. We need to involve the devices we know are already coming to campus and do more to help our students use them safely, prevent cyber-bullying, and interact with parents who can check in from work or home. If schools invite parents to have the same access to their independent children as parents have experienced all summer long, perhaps parents can help spot troubling issues before they become major problems.

Parents who know their children are texting friends at inappropriate times can send messages like “Pay attention to the teacher” and “You know better!” Parents who notice a drop off in communication may realize a student is not engaging in appropriate ways or is struggling with something. Children could text parents to find a quick answer instead of having to remember all day what they wanted to ask – whether they want permission to bring a friend over or to know the name of that really cool family vacation spot. We used to bring pictures to share our summer vacation experiences. Now all those pictures are on our phones.

Image Credit this section: MorgueFile

Preparing Future Social Media Savviness

Many adults currently enjoy their phone relationship – being able to text someone at home (or not on a deadline) that keys, lunch, or an important presentation was forgotten. Home-making spouses (and other individuals acting in that role whether full time or just one time) have saved many major corporations by bringing important (yet forgotten) documents to places they needed to be. We can text each other to announce that a business partner is coming home for dinner or that we need to stay late to work on a project. And we don’t have to wait until the last minute to inform the family. Students do not have these luxuries. And they should.

Cell phones are not going away. If parents and schools worked together to include cell phones in the curriculum, then we as a society might enjoy better social media etiquette. Perhaps with a curricula for cell phone usage, our society would have a set of rules which would aid in our social media and texting interactions. I realize in some areas we are still debating the necessity of basic computer literacy courses. I think we need to accept that necessity and add cell phone etiquette to the lesson plan.

Cell phones: use often. Use responsibly. Don’t text and drive!


Image Credit this section: Dennis Cox

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Unheard Cries for Help
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For a complete list of articles, visit my Profile Page.

How was the first day back at school for anyone? Please leave me a comment, and don't be afraid to jump into the conversation!

Image Credit this section: Bing Image Search

Tags

Cell Phones, Parents, Phone, School, Social Media, Students, Text

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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Comments

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
18th Aug 2014 (#)

This is a complex question that will not go away, there is a great need to be in touch, yet the teachers wish to ensure that lessons go on in an orderly manner. It is supposed that cell phones and Social Media interrupt that. Yet as an Android phone/tablet owner I would argue that a disciplined child can use these devices to take lesson notes far more effectively than writing in an old-fashioned notebook and provided they act responsibly then why can't this technology be a part of the pupil's in-class equipment.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
18th Aug 2014 (#)

And even for the less disciplined child -- for example, recording what the teacher said would allow perfect recall and transmission of information to parents. Students could take notes that do not rely on handwriting, and use spellcheck as they write papers and drafts. We have tools, to not train students to use them responsibly is irresponsible -- at some point.

Great comment, thanks for your input!

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
19th Aug 2014 (#)

super is this Phyl and I love the pics...you do so well in all you write for you write from your heart and your knowing.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
19th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, Carolina. This was a fun bit to write, surely.

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
19th Aug 2014 (#)

Good evening, Phyl; my grandson's school seems to have split the difference. There's an extra 5 minutes every two periods when a short text or selfie can be sent. The kids know to be quick, responsible and my grandson sent a cute one of his locker. So, like you, I knew exactly where he was. Good article, Phyl. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
19th Aug 2014 (#)

Well, now that is awesome and forward thinking of your grandson's school. Way to Go for them!! Good hearing from you!

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author avatar snerfu
19th Aug 2014 (#)

"School is not the same without fountain pens" -- I know the feeling. When ball point pens were introduced, many of the parents felt that something drastic was changing -- and yet everything remained the same.
We have come a long way since paper and pens I think.

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author avatar Ptrikha
20th Aug 2014 (#)

Yes, and now even Personal Desktop PCs and Laptops look to be overshadowed by Smartphones and to some extent by Tablets.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Aug 2014 (#)

True, Ptrikha. Thanks for the comment.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
19th Aug 2014 (#)

We have come such a long way since quills and ink blotters, and yet some people fear the technology and that fear holds back entire segments of a generation. But it is so easy to obtain a phone these days -- with the decline of land lines, a month-to-month cell may be easier for a child to get than a laptop computer.
(No one has brought up income disparity as a reason not to do this, as I was expecting it, so...) But I think someone could write a school grant to get cell phones for educational purposes -- there are already loads of grants written to obtain tablets, SmartBoards, ELMOS, and laptops. A fleet phone purchase would be relatively cheap in comparison.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
19th Aug 2014 (#)

Phyl, possibly the reason no-one has mentioned cost is because most people here are forward thinkers and consider it worth spending.

I have been doing some thinking about this and believe that in the future education either with the aid of or via tablet computers will be entirely possible. The more I think about it the more incensed I am that schools do not embrace the technology. because the personal computer is now more than 40 years old.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Aug 2014 (#)

iPads and tablets are involved in more and more education at school. And I am understanding that cell phones are allowed in jr high and senior high here. While that is a step in the right direction, by that time, many bad habits can already be established. I am glad that this Wikinut community (or those commenting) are more forward-thinking. Middle School is the age where a LOT of kids get phones and have more independence. So technology etiquette is really important.

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author avatar Ptrikha
20th Aug 2014 (#)

Some schools in Delhi/NCR in India have started giving Tablets to students above certain classes. Yet, these are schools charging very high tution fees(some in excess of INR 15000 Per Month(45000/- quarterly), which is a big amount in India).

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Aug 2014 (#)

At the public elementary school my son attended, K-5th grade classes each had a tablet per classroom. When a class wanted to use more tablets, they borrow from the other classrooms.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
19th Aug 2014 (#)

Valid concerns of a parent, thanks Phyl. I think this is an issue everywhere and school authorities are still grappling with it, rather like an uncharted or gray area. Like Marilyn has highlighted, children should be given breaks to get to use their cell phones. However. when they are teenagers they may not have time to be in touch with parents though, especially the boys! siva

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Aug 2014 (#)

As the mom of a boy -- yes, I know!! And a quick text or photo means so much to parents when their kids get to old to show affection with hugging or mushy words!! ;)

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author avatar Ptrikha
20th Aug 2014 (#)

May be have a "disciplined" and "within limit" usage of cellphones in schools?
The idea of a curricula for cell phone usage sounds really great and practical too.
And I always adhere to :

"Don’t text and drive!"

Yet many people do not.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, Ptrikha, for this and all your comments. I appreciate being thought of as practical!! ;)

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author avatar Retired
21st Aug 2014 (#)

Great views, all. And a thoughtful subject, Phyl. I can't speak for the entire state of WV but kids here have been given tablets in school for years. As far as the phones, many schools forbid them due to kids texting during classes, sharing jokes, and using facebook instead of focusing on the classroom. I agree some time, perhaps 5 minutes after class, would be great. But kids DO get time to get caught up during lunch break. Hmmm, guess I'm on the fence over this article!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Aug 2014 (#)

On the fence is fine. We do need to think about pros and cons of any situation, I think, before making a ban. Free and social times, like work break times, would be good places to allow phone use if phones are not allowed as PDAs. Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Retired
23rd Aug 2014 (#)

Phyl, I appreciate your point of view but I disagree with the idea of students using cell phones in school.

I'm a teacher and it's not allowed in my school environment. In my school days, there was no technology and we made it.

This was a debate topic I gave to my students. We weighed the benefits and demerits.
Students concluded, cell phones should be banned.

I think parents can always call on phone to check how their kids are doing in class.

Most importantly, pray always in your heart for their safety.

Thanks for sharing.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
24th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks for your comment, hotnicey. I am glad you have at least discussed it with your students, weighing the pros and cons. Students being able to have a say is important.

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author avatar Kingwell
24th Aug 2014 (#)

Hi Phyl, a good post and I agree with you, I think kids should be allowed to call or text their parents between classes and at lunch time. Of course for me now, I just have grandchildren in school but I till have an opinion and think that something can be worked out. I'm not sure if children in this area have to keep their phones in there lockers or not.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
25th Aug 2014 (#)

Thanks, Kingwell. With as many grandparents helping raise kids these days, I should not have left them out of the equation!! Well spotted!

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author avatar Retired
28th Aug 2014 (#)

Interesting article, Phyl. When I worked in a business environment, at many meetings some people would text and take calls non-stop. These meetings were attended by educated adults who were obviously blind to the disruption this caused. Allowing youngsters to use mobile phones in school would require some level of instruction on when and why. Fortunately, children are far easier to teach than adults. Teachers would need to have a system in place that allowed for regulated use of mobile phones. I think that allowing youngsters to use a mobile phone during school hours (in accordance with a set of rules) has many practical advantages. Among these is that parents would feel more comfortable about their children's safety; many children would probably feel more secure knowing that a parent was easy to reach; there could be a reduction in bullying due to the high number of cameras that could record what was going on; and teachers could have direct contact with individual students (although that is a shady area). Personally I think that a tablet with Internet and telephone/sms capabilities would be more practical than a mobile phone. Of course, I wouldn't want to see mobile phones in use during exams. "Hey dad, quick, what's the square root of 16?"

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
28th Aug 2014 (#)

Agreed, Mike. There are pros and cons to every idea worth considering. There are people who would feel privacy was violated and others who would welcome constant recording to prove that their point of view was above board. We know children are easier to teach than adults, so if we could agree on an etiquette, we could implement it. Thanks for your comment.

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author avatar Smileworld
1st Sep 2014 (#)

Nowadays, having a cellphone has more pros than cons. In the case of students, however, i still prefer them to be allowed to bring cell phone. A clear-cut policies can ensure proper discipline on the use of cellphone while in school.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
1st Sep 2014 (#)

Excellent observation. Thank you for the comment, and welcome to my page!

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author avatar Lee Hansen
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Phyl you have a good argument here. Just think how much good these devices are when there is something going on that can only be recaptured with a phone recording or picture. Having one would be a relief for both parent and child alike when used in a responsible way. Keeping them in a locker serves no good purpose.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
12th Sep 2014 (#)

Responsibility is the key. And I think schools could be a great place to learn that responsibility. Thanks for your comment.

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