Removing Student Cell Phone Access

How does a school deal with cell phones?

4/4/20241 min read

I came across something that I’ve yet to see in classrooms - pouches lock up cell phones. It made me think.

The topic of taking away student cell phones during class is not new. Educators have been having the discussion of how to deal with them since the first iPhone became a hit. However, since schools have resumed post-pandemic, I’ve noticed that students are more glued to their phones than ever. I get it - I would be, too, if it’s all I had to keep me entertained day-in and day-out during the lockdown.

How do you solve a problem like a cell phone? Do you agree, as a district, that they should be locked up? Should they simply be put in lockers? Or do you allow students to have (and use them) all day? The answer isn’t so simple.

For one, locking up student phones is an issue of safety. In emergencies, seconds matter, and even if a teacher can unlock a phone from a pouch quickly, it’s wasting precious time. Also, there is the issue of liability. Say a “pouched” phone goes missing or gets damaged. Who’s at fault? However, cell phones are a distraction during school and there can be issues with students taking unsolicited pictures and videos or other students or staff. I can tell you, I’ve experienced the good and bad of student cell phones.

That’s why, as a member of the Fenton School Board, I will advocate for teacher autonomy when it comes to student cell phones, if this is ever a discussion. Teachers should decide what is best for them, considering their teaching style and techniques, their students, their classroom environment, and their comfort level. The district shouldn’t decide for them. Teachers should be able to allow students to (responsibly) use their technology, if they see fit. They should also be able to lock student phones up, if they see fit. Teaching is never a one-size-fits-all endeavor.