Should Elementary School Students Have Cell Phones? (FACEOFF)
October 23, 2018
As the years go on, the use of technology continues to increase within all age groups. In society, it is the younger children who have now gained a fascination over the use of phones, iPads and laptops. The standards in society today are more acceptable to younger kids receiving phones. There are many factors that contribute to why elementary school students should receive a phone, especially with regards to safety and proper communication.
According to CNN, by May 2018, 23 school shootings had already occurred. That averages out to more than one shooting each week. Schools are no longer just a place of learning, and students walk into school everyday not knowing if they will walk out safely. Giving the younger generation access to phones allows them to feel more secure at school. Having access to a phone allows elementary school students to have immediate contact with their parents if something were to ever go wrong. This is also beneficial for parents because they do not have to wait to here from a school administrator; they can immediately know whether or not their child is safe.
People in opposition of children receiving phones believe that children can spread false information about a situation, which is unsafe. Before any procedure or lockdown drill, students are clearly instructed about what they should do. And in cases of a real emergency, some students may have to evacuate a building so the best way to notify their guardian about their safety and their location is through the effectiveness of a telephone. Students can receive detailed instruction about when the right time is to use their phones, preventing dangers to other students and faculty members.
In today’s world, children start using electronics from a very young age because parents are providing them with this abundance of technology. Children are raised learning how to use electronics, so by the time they reach the fifth grade they are more than capable of knowing how to utilize a phone the correct way. According to the New York Times, smartphones allows children to gain access to educational tools for studying and other apps for social interactions with friends. The fear of students becoming involved with inappropriate apps is unnecessary because smartphones contain features that parents can add restrictions on.
Allowing students at such a young age to have phones also leads to the issue of students getting too distracted during school. However, the main reason why elementary students should have phones is strictly for emergencies and safety precautions. During school hours, teachers can enforce rules on students, only allowing them to use their phone before or after school. This prevents students from feeling tempted to play on their phones or cause a distraction.
These days, it seems just about everyone can be seen clutching their smartphone as they go through their day. Young people of certain ages should not be allowed free reign over technology and the Internet, and elementary school students should not have phones under any circumstances.
In these critical years of development, these children’s brains are susceptible to all sorts of outside influences. A phone serves as a major distraction and severely hinders their ability to learn.
If a fourth grader had the option to choose between playing games on their phone or listening to their teacher explain long division, they would not choose the latter. Technology stimulates the brain and draws in the user’s attention to keep them hooked for as long as possible. This is not conducive to learning in a classroom and paying attention for elongated periods of time. In a study conducted by Dr. Lee Hadlington of De Montford University Leicester, it was found that people who used their phones had significantly shorter attention spans.
According to Lauren Q. Hill, an investigative journalist, the average elementary schooler’s uninterrupted attention span does not exceed 25 minutes. Throwing a phone into the mix can cause many distractions, from the brightly lit screen to the vibrantly colored game icons. A phone that is constantly beeping and buzzing causes major interruptions and prevents students near the phone from learning as well. Elementary schoolers with smartphones have unlimited access to video games and Netflix, neither of which should be used at school.
However, with the recent concerns surrounding school safety, many parents are considering giving their elementary aged children a phone as a way to contact their child in the event of an emergency. While this may seem like a good way to be able to ensure the safety of their child, in reality, this may create a more dangerous situation. If the student is not entirely sure of what the exact situation is, they could accidentally spread misinformation. In the event that it is just a drill, the parent may be extremely alarmed by what their child’s messages are conveying, and cause unnecessary distress to the school, parent, and child. In the case of a dire emergency, schools have their own evacuation routes and safety measures to protect their students to the best of their abilities. If a parent is receiving distressing messages from their child, they will not stand idly by and make no attempt to help. However, at this point, emergency services would most likely have already been contacted by the school and will figure out how to best deal with the situation. If the student is confused and informs their parent of the wrong situation, that can put the lives of the other students and teachers in danger. In addition, if parents are telling their child to do something different than their teacher, the child may go against the school’s safety measures. If a student is in contact with their parent during an emergency situation where they are supposed to remain still and quiet, having a phone that could accidentally go off at any second also poses as a major safety threat.
Elementary schoolers are not equipped to deal with the responsibilities of having technology, and their brains are not quite ready to handle such distractions. Giving a phone to an elementary schooler will have many more negative consequences than meets the eye.