Hand held devices are a misplaced asset in classrooms today. Some people, including most students, consider them essential to life. Most teachers believe them to be a major distraction.
Learning is affected if children are paying attention to mobile devices instead of teachers. Ophthalmologists worry about digital eyestrain. But, one prominent professor of psychology worries about more serious troubles. Jean M. Twenge’s article Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? was published in The Atlantic. She writes:
The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health.
These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.
…Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones…
…the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy..
Writing in the Globe and Mail, columnist Gary Mason called for a ban on cellphones in the classroom. Mason argues:
The argument some parents make that kids should be linked to their phones at all times is terribly misguided.
Many teachers, meantime, are frankly tired of fighting this fight and have given up. Others have decided it takes too much of their energy to police. But teachers and school administrators should develop some spine. When did we decide to let kids and their parents run the classroom?
…If we want our students to do better, let’s help them by banning cellphones in the classroom.
There is enough scientific knowledge of potential harm that, if elected to the Board of School District 44, I would support a district-wide ban on students possessing cellphones and other mobile digital devices in classrooms.