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By ALLIE WILLEY
Special to the Herald Times
MEEKER | Should we allow phones in schools today? Everybody has an opinion on the matter. There is one opinion people seem to be neglecting, though: the opinion of the millennials who use their phones every day. Meeker students responded to the following questions in an informal survey:
– Why should phones be allowed in school?
– What restriction do you have for technology at home? Do you use any social media?
– Have you ever been cyber-bullied?
– Have you ever been exposed to inappropriate (i.e. violent, illegal or sexual content) through social media?
– What age did you get your first cell phone?
One hundred twenty-three students out of 133 who responded believe that there should be phones in school.
“For me, the situation of phones within schools is a delicate balance. On one hand, they allow for inappropriate behaviors to enter the school atmosphere. Phones introduce a whole mess of problems into the classrooms, which the teachers are faced with combating. Social media, games, internet access, etc. are tempting for students to use during class rather than remaining fully engaged in their coursework. These distractions complicate the learning atmosphere. Phones are obviously a serious concern for staff members as well, who are often unable to enforce school policies and mediate conflicts between students online (i.e. cyber bullying). Phones also allow access to graphic and violent content on the internet which can be easily shared/distributed between students. However, phones also allow a seemingly infinite amount of resources for student access, which can improve the educational experience. The depth and quality of educational materials allows for students to literally take their knowledge into their own hands. Students can improve their memories, increase their efficiency while studying and research/compose reports with ease. They allow for the collaboration between peers on projects, and easy, remote discussion between teachers and students. Coursework can be fulfilled, submitted and graded online, eliminating the need for physical resources (paper and pencils) and allowing for work to be done outside of school or when resources are unavailable,” responded Pake Burke.
“Yes,” said Kenzie Turner, “even though phones are sometimes abused, I still need my phone for educational use. I have email, Google Drive, Infinite Campus, Plan Book and many other apps that I use for school. I also look up a lot of information on my phone when a Chromebook is not available. My phone is very helpful in school.”
Roughly 50 percent of the students had restrictions on technology use at home. This restriction helps kids learn the proper time to use their phones. They can learn when to put it down, and when it is appropriate to take it out.
According to the survey, 88.7 percent of 133 students use some sort of social media. A lot of people look at such a big number and they panic. Even though most students use social media, only 19.5 percent have ever been cyber bullied, and 32.6 percent had been exposed to inappropriate content through social media.
On May 7, Meeker High School hosted an assembly about the use of phones in schools today. When asking students how they felt about the assembly they gave the following responses.
“I found the presentation to be redundant—and slightly biased. No solution was proposed, and I feel that weakens the argument for and against phone control. There simply is not enough information that provides strong depth in what the actual problem is,” said sophomore Brandon Lozano.
“The assembly was OK. It was eye-opening towards the outside world, but I have heard most of that information before. People need to just not be so inappropriate and we would have a better world,” said Lacey Ford.
“I thought that presentation was like beating a dead horse. I had heard all the information before,” responded Eli Hanks.
When asking some of the staff members what their opinions where they responded:
“Cellphones can be a very convenient resource—I know I use it all day in the office to communicate with parents and teachers. It’s also important to realize that cell phones are crucial pieces of todays teen’s social environment,” said Mandi Etheridge.
“Moderation is key in everything and there should be boundaries placed on how and when cell phones are used. The key is teaching kids how to use them appropriately. No matter what you are going to have kids use them in inappropriate moments. The millennials are not the only ones that use technology. With the way social media is today, it’s inevitable.”
“The teachers at Meeker High School use cell phones during inappropriate times as well throughout the school day. It’s just technology today,” said another teacher, who preferred to remain anonymous.
“I believe that teachers/students now have the added responsibility to teach students appropriate and professional use of personal electronic devices,” stated Principal Amy Chinn. “We need to teach kids that cell phones can be used to access information and to facilitate communication. However, in school and in the workplace, use of social media and unnecessary cell phone use is not appropriate. It is incompliant in school to provide some cell phone free games to teach students the value of face to face communication and to give students a time free of distraction. It’s a difficult balance to manage.”