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Cell phones at school– learning tool or distraction?

By: Logan Barberis 

Cell phones at school are a distraction. That’s the opinion of many high school teachers and administrators. But many of their students believe the good of phones outweighs the bad.

“I use my phone quite often and I think it's helpful for a lot of things in class,” said Hung Ngyuen, a freshman at Annandale High School. “I use it to support my grades.”

Here are some positive ways that phones can be used at school:

  • Students can call for help in case of emergency.

  • Students can take pictures of notes for study (with teacher approval).

  • Students can help each other academically through group chats. 

  • Students can use their phones as calculators.

  • Students can download academic applications on their phones.

  • Students can set up reminders for upcoming assignments and tests.

  • Students can use their phones to scan QR codes.

“I sometimes use my phone to take pictures of useful stuff and information on the board so I can use it later,” Annandale junior Alfred Rockow said.

But Annandale math teacher Tobias Dienstfrey said the reality is students use their phones too often for things other than academics. “They are enormous distractions,” he said, “and kids just use social media or just play video games.”

 Here are some ways schools can restrict the use of phones short of banning them.

  • Tell students they will lose phone privileges if they abuse them.

  •  Have students turn in phones before class and hand them out when needed.

  • Offer Wi-Fi that allows students to use only apps chosen by the school.

“I don't use my phone often in class,” Rockow said, “but most people around me usually use it.”

Some students hide their phones under their desks, in their hoodies, and behind their laptops.

“At this point, I tell students to put away their phones,” Dienstfrey said, “and they ignore me.”

Logan Barberis is a rising sophomore at Annandale High School in Virginia. He worked on this article with Youthcast Media Group, which has a partnership with Annandale’s journalism class. 


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