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Should Students be Permitted to use Smartphones at School

Updated on February 15, 2017
Leonard Tillerman profile image

Leonard is a former teacher and school principal who has also been a part-time blogger for the past decade. Writing is his true love.


There is an age-old adage that states: “the only thing that never changes is change itself.” Nowhere is this quote more applicable than in the field of education. Society is dynamic and always changing, and education systems are designed to respond to these constantly evolving needs. It is not meant to be a static field. The paradox of this fact, however, is the reality that education systems are frequently mired in traditionalism and can be very difficult to transform in order to meet the changing needs of the society they serve. That being said, one of the greatest changes which have occurred is in the area of technology. It is being utilized in ways which were not even considered previously and is an area of rapid growth and change. Many educators have embraced these technological transformations as a way to truly engage and prepare their students. Nevertheless, as is often the case with anything “new”, there have been many squabbles and resistance to certain technological innovations. One of these controversies has to do with smartphones. More specifically, should students be permitted to use smartphones at school? Undoubtedly there are very robust opinions on both sides of this issue. In truth, there are many advantages and disadvantages to students using smartphones at school. The arguments which are typically put forth by both sides of this question are listed below in an effort to obtain a more thorough understanding of the issue.

Yes...Smartphones Should be Permitted at School!

1. Money and Funding:

Other than healthcare, education funding is typically the largest expense of all developed nations. While that may be true, it is also subject to rigorous cost-cutting and strict budgets. In such an environment, investing in expensive technology is virtually impossible. In order to respond to this fact, students could bring their own smartphones to school. This would save a vast amount of money in the education system as schools would not have to actually provide the expensive devices to their students. Such a strategy would creatively save money without detracting from the educational experience of students.

2. Differentiated Instruction:

Not all students learn the same...that is a fact. By allowing them to utilize smartphones in the class, the teacher can embrace a differentiated instructional approach. Learners will be able to access the Internet for research as well as access a variety of organizational tools such as mind maps, virtual planners and speech to text programs. All of these can enhance the educational experience and put everyone on a level playing field.

3. Child Safety:

We live in a different age than our ancestors did. In today's society, most households no longer have a parent sitting at home waiting for their child to arrive back from school. In truth, the majority of caregivers are at work all day which means they tend to keep in touch with their children by using smartphones. With more and more children walking home from school on their own these days, this is just a simple matter of child safety and should not be overlooked.

4. Preparing our Students for the Future:

Undoubtedly, technology and smartphones are not going away anytime soon! The educational system should embrace this fact by showing students how to properly utilize their devices to maximize the benefits. These are skills all students will need in an ever changing society. If they are not provided with these skills, they will surely be left behind.

No...Smartphones Should NOT be Permitted at School!

1. Fairness:

When considering whether students should be permitted to use smartphones at school, it is critical to consider equity of opportunity. Due to expense, not all families can afford to provide their child with a smartphone. This, in turn, creates a very inequitable system, A virtual have and have not structure will be created!

2. Behavior and Distractibility:

Allowing students to use smartphones at school can provide a whole new set of classroom management issues. Learners could use their devices to cheat on tests, access inappropriate sites, and even cyberbully their classmates! This could all be happening at the same time when they should be focused on the lesson at hand. Teachers have enough to do without adding policing smartphone usage to their list of responsibilities!

3. Student Health and Well-Being:

There have been a number of studies conducted in regards to the negative side effects which smartphones can have on health. In fact, the World Health Organization has stated emphatically that smartphones are quite possibly "carcinogenic to humans." When you add to this the other obvious health impacts such as eyesight, hearing, and mental health...are they really worth it?


Both sides to this issue have a solid and powerful line of reasoning. There are clear advantages and disadvantages which exist. Nevertheless, this does not mean the question of whether students should be permitted to use smartphones at school should simply be avoided and ignored. All sides of the debate should be carefully considered which will allow for a meticulous plan of action to be pursued. Instead of merely putting our collective heads in the sand, solutions to the problems must be considered and addressed. For instance, if fairness and equity are a concern, how then can the system support those who are at a socioeconomic disadvantage? By being solution based we may be able to offer our students and children the best possible education system which they truly deserve!


16 Seriously Damaging Side Effects Of Your Smartphone Addiction. By Jayne Leonard

Do Smartphones Have A Place In Classrooms? By Paul Barnwell

Smartphones In The Classroom: A Teacher's Dream Or Nightmare? CBC News

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