The Student News Site of Elkhart High School

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The Student News Site of Elkhart High School

The PENNANT Online

The Student News Site of Elkhart High School

The PENNANT Online

Switching Off, Tuning In

U.K .bans smartphones in schools; could the U.S. be next?
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Switching Off, Tuning In

Students nowadays cannot live without unrestricted access to their smartphones, an unsurprising fact considering most of their lives are contained in technology; however, what would happen if that privilege was taken away? 

Earlier this month, England’s Education Secretary Gillian Keegan made an announcement about an upcoming guidance placed by the Department of Education that advised school principals to prohibit phone use. The ban, announced Oct. 2, restricts English students from using their mobile phones during school hours—both classroom time and free time included. This means no texting, no social media, and no calling family members while on school premises. 

Phones may be used to and from school but must be switched off and put away completely upon entering school premises. From the time school begins, students are banned from even holding their phones during a “lesson or break time.” If seen, phones will be confiscated and not returned until the end of the day.

England is not the first to attempt a phone ban, as countries like Portugal, China, and France have also implemented a restriction on phones in classrooms. This fact has sparked a conversation in the United States, namely amongst the students who are fearful of their school’s future direction. 

Sophomore student Nataly Munoz-Martinez was spooked upon first hearing about the news. The student attends Elkhart High School and, because of the recent earbud policy, believes that the idea of a phone ban is not so far-fetched for the district. “I hadn’t heard about what was going on [in the UK], but I’m now concerned that our school might want to try it out,” Munoz-Martinez states. The potential phone ban aligns with the existing one-earbud policy implemented as both measures prioritize a distraction-free learning environment and students’ well-being. 

England’s main reason for prohibiting phone use during the school day is in hope to prevent cyberbullying and minimize the risk of unauthorized photography; however, Munoz-Martinez has other speculations concerning this sentiment: “While [students] might not immediately share information about students at school when things happen, that does not stop them from spreading information in their own time.” The sophomore goes on to agree that the lack of access to phones would “stop people from taking pictures of other students without their permission.”

Apart from the mentioned benefits, advocates of the ban argue that it can have several positive impacts on the educational experience. By reducing the use of phones during class, students can focus more on their studies and engage better with teachers and classmates. This, in theory, should lead to improved academic performance and teachers won’t have to constantly compete with unauthorized screens for students’ attention.

Students may make the argument that phones can be valuable tools for learning, providing quick access to information and educational apps. For some, mobile devices are essential for taking notes or keeping in contact with guardians for abrupt schedule changes. Furthermore, Munoz-Martinez argues that the ban is too restrictive and that there might be better alternatives to address the issue of distractions. “Perhaps teachers should make their classes more interesting, so students naturally want to pay attention. Banning phones won’t solve the problem completely.” Her claim follows the assumption that if students are truly engaged and interested in the class material, they would be less likely to reach for their phones. 

The mobile phone ban in English schools is a topic that has sparked debate and discussion. American students might find this policy interesting to consider in the context of their own learning environment. The debate continues, and it’s up to students and educators to find the best approach for their specific educational needs.

In the end, it’s clear that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to managing phone use in schools. While it has its merits, it’s important to explore alternative solutions that balance the benefits of technology with the need for a focused and engaging learning environment.

 

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About the Contributor
Claudia Rosales, Staff Writer
Hi, I’m Claudia Rosales and am joining my second year on the team as a senior! Within my first year on The PENNANT, I’ve learned an incredible amount of new and valuable input from the student body and want to do that again this year. I’m a believer that giving students a voice, especially in such a huge school setting, is vital. I admire literature, aspire to create art, and hope to share new perspectives and inspire other students during my final year here.

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