It seems that the present generation of kids and teens can hardly imagine life without the internet and smartphones. This 2015 study showed that over 70% of American teens and kids owned or had easy access to a smartphone and about 2/3 had a tablet. And those trends have continued to rise.
And kids use their devices everywhere. We’ve already got used to it. In the bathroom, in the kitchen, at sports grounds… school is no exception. But is it right to let my child take their phone to school?
How smartphones can help in class
Before we ask ourselves that question though, it would be good to think about what ways smartphones and tablets can be a helpful instrument in class:
- The first and most obvious benefit of having a phone in school is the fact that you can contact your child at any time you need. Of course, a regular non-smartphone can serve this purpose just as well
- A smartphone can be used to take notes and record lectures
- A smartphone or tablet can be used as an organiser
- Internet search can help to prepare a good report or allow students to check facts during class. Of course, whether or not this is appropriate will depend on the situation/class/teacher
- Generally speaking, your child’s electronic device can be great study tool if you pre-install some helpful educational apps on it
- On a more negative note, some argue that as so many kids Do bring smartphones to school, kids who don’t do so face a form of social discrimination and can wind up being left out of the group
What are the dangers of smartphones in school?
Some potential dangers of smartphones in school can include:
- Using smartphones in class can distract children’s attention. Another (rather unsurprising) study shows that kids who surf the internet and answer messages during class earn worse grades on average compared with those who didn’t
- Social media misuse can leave kids feeling that they’re missing out. It can even worsen their feeling of safety and have a negative impact on their relationships with their peers
- While they’re at school, if you have no pre-set controls working on a device, you have no way of controlling the amount of time your kids spend on their device
- Similar to the previous point, kids can potentially use school as an opportunity to access inappropriate content. Even if it’s something they wouldn’t usually do, they may even experience peer pressure to do this
What questions should I ask to help decide whether I should let my child take their phone to school?
Many schools already have some sort of “smartphone code” included in their charters so the dangers described above may not be such an issue for your kids. But if we want to completely protect our children, by not allowing them to take their smartphone to school, that decision is ours to make. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to ensure we make the right decision:
- Is my child mature enough to have their own smartphone and to take it to school?
- Can I protect my child from undesirable content and other network dangers? (Does the school have some sort of restrictions on its local network? Do I need to install a parental control app on my child’s device?)
- Does my child understand some basic smartphone etiquette rules?
- Do we have a relationship of trust that will enable us to talk about any issues that could arise out of having a smartphone at school? (bullying, fear of missing out, being distracted from work, sexting and other inappropriate phone use, etc.)
Do you allow your child to have a smartphone at school? What are the main reasons for your decision? Let us know in the comments section.