Schools, Parents Disagree over Bans on Student Mobile Phones

An increasing number of schools in the United States are limiting the amount of students who can use their cell phones. Teachers say phones disturbing and keeping children from studying.

But some parents disagree with the policy.

Restrictions on devices were on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since schools reopened, struggles with student behavior and mental health have given some schools more reason to restrict use.

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Parental pushback

During the online study, parents had a constant access to their children. Some still don’t want to give up that access. Some say they fear losing their children if there is a school shooting.

As there is debate over how subjects like race are taught in schools, some parents are also looking at phone restrictions as a way to keep them out of the loop. children‘education.

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Shannon Moser has students in eighth and ninth grade grades in Rochester, New York. He said he felt like parents were being kicked out when the local school system blocked students’ phones. He noted that many parents on both sides of the political divide feel the same way.

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“Everything is like this politics, which is very divisive. And I think parents are just afraid of what’s going on with their kids during the day,” said Moser The Associated Press. There is a type accountabilityhe said, once the students are able to record what is happening around them.

Students at Washington Junior High School, leaving classes for the day, used the unlock method to open the bags their cell phones were locked in during the school day, Thursday, Oct.  27, 2022. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Students at Washington Junior High School, leaving classes for the day, used the unlock method to open the bags their cell phones were locked in during the school day, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Increasing limits

The National Center for Education Statistics found that nearly 65 percent of public schools banned cell phones in 2015. By the 2019-2020 school year, restrictions had been imposed in 76 percent of schools. And the states of California and Tennessee recently passed laws allowing schools to ban phones.

Now, teachers see the need to prevent students from being distracted. During this epidemic, many students lost their education.

Liz Keren-Kolb is a professor of educational technology at the University of Michigan. He said school officials may feel compelled to limit cellphone devices because of parents’ concerns about too much screen time during violence. But he said there are many opinions of parents on this matter.

“You still have parents who want to have that direct line of communication,” she said. “But I think there is more to it than that sympathy and understanding about their child being able to put down their tools so they can really know focus by learning in the classroom.”

In western Pennsylvania, the Washington School District began banning cell phones this year because teachers found them to be a distraction.

Students were on their phones in the hallways and at the lunch tables. Others called home or answered the phone during class, said high school teacher Treg Campbell.

The school’s program leader, George Lammay, said the ban was the right decision. He said the ban was to keep students focused on school, “not trying to limit their contact with families.”

In some cases, pushback from parents has led to policy changes.

In the Brush School District in Colorado, cell phones were banned after teachers raised concerns about the Internet bullying. When the parents pushed back, the school system held a public meeting, with the majority opposing the ban. Parents say they want their children to get their own phones.

The policy was changed to allow phones on school grounds. But they must be turned off and removed. The school also said it would allow some students to use their phones for special reasons.

“There is no purpose to say that cell phones are bad,” said Wilson. Instead, it says “‘How do we manage this in a way that makes sense for everyone?'”

Kolb said there is no perfect answer to the phones at the schools.

“It certainly helps to ensure that we teach students and parents about life habits with their digital devices,” he said.

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on Associated Press reporting.

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Words In This Story

interfere -v. to cause to stop thinking or paying attention to someone or something and to think or pay attention to someone or something else instead

access – n. a way of approaching, to, or to something or someone

distance – n. the level of study completed by a student within one year

enter politics -v. associating with politics in a way that makes it difficult for people to agree

a child– n. a young person

responsible – adj. required to be responsible for something

sympathy – n. the feeling that you understand and share the experiences and emotions of another person

focus -v. directing your attention or effort to something specific

bully – n. a person who intimidates, harms, or threatens small or weak people

purpose -v. something you plan to do or achieve

habit – n. normal behavior

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