The relatively recent rise of mobile technology has had a large impact on schools, with young students having never known a time when we didn’t each carry an internet-connected device in our pocket. UK schools are currently able to set their own rules, from limiting usage to lunchtime, to confiscating them at the start of the day.
Whilst smartphones can be the bane of a teacher’s career, they can also be a useful tool for modern learning. To explore this further, we’ve put together some pros and cons so that you can form your own opinion.
Pro: Smartphones can be integrated into lessons
Depending on your school’s policies, it’s easy to use smartphones in your lessons as a means of bringing a subject to life and assisting its natural flow. From built-in tools such as calculators, dictionaries and translators, to educational apps for learning pretty much everything, it’s definitely possible to create a healthy balance.
For instance, the Google Arts and Culture app offers the brilliant Art Selfie feature, which is a fun way to discover different creative styles and the stories behind the masterpieces.
Con: The internet can be linked to bullying
It’s a sad fact that a constant internet connection can lead to an increase in cyberbullying, such as sharing photos on Snapchat or having nasty conversations regarding a targeted student via messaging apps like WhatsApp. Removing the technology obviously doesn’t stop bullying entirely, but it can restrict the volume, regularity and magnitude.
Pro: A world of discovery at your fingertips
Whilst students (and grown-ups) use phones for Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and the like, it’s unfair and untrue to say that this is where their digital usage ends. Having access to the internet and apps can help children to explore topics, further understand educational and life-based subject matter, look up words and definitions, and generally inspire them to take ownership over their ongoing learning journey.
Con: Less direct interaction
A smartphone contains your own little world. Adults are just as guilty of staring at small screens all of the time, with the majority of us checking them during social activities such as drinks with friends, a trip to the cinema, and even in the middle of a conversation. We don’t mean to be rude, it’s just something that we do automatically.
This can be especially impactful on young people who are still learning interpersonal skills, as using a phone when they could be chatting and making new friends could have a long-term effect.
Pro: Trust and respect
Allowing students to have their phones on school grounds (albeit with certain restrictions in place) can contribute toward them feeling like they’re being treated as adults. In a way, it could narrow the gap between pupil and educator, enabling mutual trust and providing a sense of responsibility.
Before phones arrived on the scene there were always toys and games prohibited by some schools, but did this action remove the problem or simply lead to another one?
Con: Reduced focus
A study by the London School of Economics found that banning phones equated to students receiving an extra week of education over the course of a school year. Meanwhile, researchers say that test scores rose by 6% in schools that had banned phones. Further study may be required but it’s certainly food for thought.
Pro: Tech is a part of modern life
It’s crucial that IT proficiency and an understanding of modern technology is at the core of education, as the vast majority of jobs require these skills. In fact, many schools now teach basic coding and similar topics, helping children to prepare for an increasingly digital world.
By allowing students to use their smartphones at specified times during the school day, they can naturally increase their digital aptitude and get a head start in life.
What do you think about students using smartphones and other technology? Let us know and tag us #TeachNorthwest