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School cell phone ban needs wider implementation

In a move that ought to be emulated statewide, the Lafayette Parish School Board outlawed the possession of cell phones on their high school campuses, outside of cars in parking lots, for students during the regular school day, complementing a ban for junior highs and elementary schools. Why this hasn’t been done before and in more places is the real mystery.

Cell phones bring nothing but distraction, if not outright unethical or illegal behavior, to the learning experience. Texting, picture-taking, and even outright calls taken or made in classrooms only interfere with the educative mission. And these are the least concerns. Increasingly, schools are reporting the photographic features of phones are being used to take and then texting/mailing features employed to send inappropriate images that may be illegal. Also, these same tactics can be used to cheat on exams, and, as phones have gotten increasingly sophisticated, phones’ storage and applications can be used to do the same.

Yet some apparently insecure parents resist the idea, citing safety concerns such as notification of them in emergency situations, or for convenience sake. One wonders how these adults of today functioned when they were in school, when their parents (without cell phones themselves) would be notified by the school office phones when necessary. It seemed to work well then, and there’s no reason it can’t work well now.

This policy also may help combat this weird co-dependency increasingly observed among those moving into adulthood and their parents. Some parents act like their children are possessions that can be stolen from them at any time, so they must be in touch with them constantly, going to extreme lengths such as equipping them with homing devices so they can track their every move (not just toddlers which might actually be justifiable, but older children as well). Others have to have intermittent streams of verbal contact by phone. For their part, these attitudes discourage the children from learning independence, self-reliance, and taking responsibility onto their own shoulders. Maybe the real world can be threatening some times, but children have to learn how they can deal with it on their own if they want to function as normal adults in it.

Most students don’t engage in these kinds of behavior, and most parents don’t facilitate an unusual tendency to cling to the apron strings but, as usual, a few rotten apples have come together to spoil things for the responsible users of this technology in the schools. But it is a reasonable burden for them to bear with this kind of policy, given the removal of the drawbacks associated with continuing the ways things were. Other districts would be wise to copy Lafayette.

1 comment:

R G Sanders said...

How any of us got by without cell phones is a mystery to 14 year old niece...

I'd like to take my BlackBerry and pitch into the river most days and return to something more smoke signals.

Parents these days have gotten to be a sorry lot.