Phone-schooling is education, too… just not in school

By Lina

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 12.33.34 PM

“See phone, take phone.”

For many years, cell phones have been considered a distraction to students’ learning. Even today, adults constantly try to keep their students away from slacking into their cell phones during class.

On the contrary, some argue that cell phones can be used for education, as there are now many applications available for students to study with. So here’s a debatable question; although some believe that cell phones can help students with learning, can educators use cell phones for students in school?

Even though teenagers might want to trash this article, the answer is no. And before you turn away from this article, I would like to reflect on behaviors of students with their cell phones while they’re working.

Firstly, we should consider the fact that students cannot focus with their phones. To prove this, 71 college students participated in an experiment where one group was to take notes on a video lecture while the video was disrupted by the phone ringing, while the other group was in a controlled condition.

You can probably predict the result; the group in disruptive condition performed significantly worse on the same multiple-choice test(Christian M.End et al).

This demonstrates the students’ reaction to disturbance, and clearly proves students are more advantaged when they’re not allowed having the “time-wasting monster” next to them. So why leave students in such a bad condition to learn, when they are meant to explore new information with their classmates?

Moreover, tons of people including Harvard students agree with this. It is never easy to ignore the notification ringing on your phone. In another study by Harvard University, 92% of college students are reported to be using their phones to send texts during class. The study also states that we are not wired to multitask well, and using cell phones during class is no exception. Even worse, using phones distracts neighbouring students as well. This is a salient reason why cell phones are banned in 69% of classrooms, and although the uses of cell phones have now become ubiquitous, the students have not been proven to be ready to use cell phones in the classroom.

As it is evident that cell phones will not help students learn efficiently, we should not give them more opportunities to use their cell phones. In fact, giving them some time to stay away from their cell phones is better to enable them to be responsible with their cell phone use.

In contrast, there are also some pros for using cell phones as “educational tools” in the classroom, which some believe may be a good reason to have cell phones during class. For instance, educators and students can use applications to interact with school work in innovative ways, meaning that educators won’t have to check the students’ work manually, which could well be more efficient.

Furthermore, having phones with them will make sure that the students will be able to stay in communication with their families in emergency cases immediately. In other words, having phones to notify texts, calls will help students improve relationships, learn information that teachers have put more effort into, and contact help in emergency cases.

However, this doesn’t mean that it is advantageous to let students learn with cell phones. Even if it was proven that study applications can help them learn without the help of teachers, school isn’t a place for students to learn on their own. Moreover, is class time ideal for contacting family?

School, where children learn with given information from their educators, should be a place where people can discuss, communicate face to face, share their ideas with the class, and learn new information based on other people’s opinions and instructions.

“Let’s face it, we all have the opportunity to be phone-schooled outside of the classroom.”(Hanford)


Works Cited

  1. “Technology and Student Distraction.” Derek Bok Center, Harvard University,
  2. Handford, Michael. “Phone-schooled.” Global Times Metro Beijing, 14 Sept. 2018. Global Issues in Context, Accessed 3 Apr. 2019.
  3. “Should Schools Ban Cell Phones? You feel lost without your phone, but many teachers think it’s a classroom distraction. Should you be forced to leave it at home?” Choices/Current Health, Jan. 2019, p. 2+. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 3 Apr. 2019.
  4. M.End, Christian, et al. “Costly Cell Phones: The Impact of Cell Phone Rings on Academic Performance.” Taylor & Francis, 6 Jan. 2010,
  5. “Cell Phones in Schools.” Opposing Viewpoints Online Collection, Gale, 2018. Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Accessed 6 Apr. 2019.
  6. Thomas, Kevin M., et al. “Cell Phones in the Classroom: Teachers’ Perspectives of Inclusion, Benefits, and Barriers.” Taylor & Francis, 11 Dec. 2013,