Cell phones in schools? Researchers and scientists are increasingly reporting that mobile devices are a sort of "Swiss Army Knife" when it comes to everyday life — an all-in-one tool used to do more than call people, find restaurants or directions and listen to music.
A recent study published by the Pew Internet and Life Project found that 83 percent of American adults have some kind of cell phone. Over 50 percent of adults surveyed over a one-month period said they used cell phones to get quick information, and at least 25 percent reported trouble doing something because they didn't have their cell phone at hand.
A staggering 40 percent of cell phone users said they found themselves in emergency situations where a cell phone helped. While 42 percent of the nearly 3,000 people polled reported cell phones stave off boredom, they concede that constant use of cell phones — especially in social environments or one-on-one interactions — is distracting or even rude. Twenty-nine percent even said they took an occasional break from their mobile devices.
That dependence of adults on cell phones sparked a recent article in MediaShift to question: if cell phones are so useful, then why are they largely banned in schools?
"The findings of this Pew research — the reliance of adults on their cell phones — stands in sharp contrast to the policies of many schools, where cell phones remained banned or restricted. Students likely have these same needs as adults: to get online and find information they need right away. But often students are banned from using their cell phones in schools, something that students themselves list as one of the greatest obstacles they face in using technology in the classroom," the article stated.
Furthermore, a New York Times article published in February stated that an hour of cell phone use can actually speed up brain activity.
For many schools, including Cotati-Rohnert Park unified, banning cell phones in classrooms is just part of school policy — similar to no bullying, no drugs and no alcohol.
"As for cell phones, our current policy as I understand it says they must be off and put away during the day," said Superintendent Robert Haley.
However, Haley said, he's looking at reevaluating the rule.
"We are in discussion on this," he said.
What do you think? Do you think cell phones could aid in your students' learning? In what situations do you think it could be beneficial?