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The Pomegranate

The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

The Student News Site of Granada High School

The Pomegranate

Grabbing Life by the Horns

Florida Bans Phones in Public Schools: “We See It, We Take It”

Opinion: Pros and Cons To The Cell Phone Ban
Florida Bans Phones in Public Schools: “We See It, We Take It”

In May of 2023, the state of Florida passed a law requiring public school districts to impose rules barring students from having access to cell phones during class time. Governor Ron DeSantis was reportedly attempting to bring back traditional education because the internet “does more harm than good,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. Those in favor of the ban argued that preventing screens from entering classrooms would limit cyberbullying incidents, improve attendance, and reduce time on social media, ameliorating students’ overall mental well-being to accelerate their academic success.

Despite some support for the new policy, many students who were directly affected have been in uproar over its restrictions, claiming that it prevents them from having the opportunity to use their devices as educational tools. In addition, others state the phone rule in schools denies them the ability to reach their parental guardians efficiently if a necessary situation arises. Either way, numerous schools across the U.S. are beginning to follow Florida’s example in the prohibition of these appliances, paving the way for students’ education to revert back to more conventional styles.

Although these changes are nothing new; following the British government’s newly issued guidelines in early October this year, as well as Italy and China’s complete embargos on the topic, there is no doubt that allowing students access to their technological devices poses various advantages and disadvantages to the educational field. Here are some of the main Pros and Cons of the arrangement.

Pros of admitting cell phone use in schools:

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Connection: Phones are very beneficial at school and can be a helpful tool. For example, they can help you connect with people in case of an emergency at school. You can provide a lifeline for immediate assistance and a way for parents to immediately communicate with their kids and check for their safety. Vanessa Lascon, a freshman at Granada High School, states that she feels “phones can be extremely useful throughout the day… [and] help us talk to people who we aren’t with physically.” It can be used for messaging apps and emails to discuss late work and clarification for certain assignments. It can also be easier for those who might not feel comfortable speaking up in class.

Enhanced Learning: Phones in schools can help accelerate a student’s education. With access to the internet, students are provided with a wealth of information. They can quickly research topics and acquire online books, educational apps, and multiple resources that promote interactive and engaging learning experiences. Moreover, using virtual social tools can have that same effect and help students stay engaged in a classroom environment.

Creativity: Cell phones are useful when being creative. Fostering creativity in the classroom is every teacher’s goal, and with tools like video editing and cameras, students can display their talents which can help them to become more engaged in school topics through the expression of their passion. Lascon agrees, commenting on how phones can “inspire and give us ideas to create something new. Social media can also give lots of inspiration with its variety of sources.”

Organization: By planning and visualizing their day or week, students can find a balance between academic and personal commitments. This can help kids engage in a healthier, more structured approach to their tasks. In essence, cell phones can be harnessed as powerful organizational tools with their many useful applications. When used wisely, they can enhance a student’s ability to manage time, stay on top of responsibilities, and lead a proportional academic life.

Time Management: Students can also use their cell phones to keep track of their time. They can check the hours throughout the day and make sure to get their work done on time so they can maintain pace with their learning. This way, when teachers set clear deadlines, students can finish the work within the set time and manage it effectively. Our freshman says her cell phone helps her with organization and time management because she can “set alarms and reminders that aid her in remaining on task.” One of the many benefits of smartphones is that they have the ability to set text alerts or alarms to remind students to do something on a certain date so they don’t end up feeling overwhelmed by everything they must remember to accomplish.

Cons of allowing cell phone use in schools:

Distractions and/or Disruptions: Research has shown that cell phone use in schools may be completely impeding students’ concentration in their courses. According to a study done in 2010 by Pew Research Center, “64% of students say they’ve texted in class and 25% have made or taken a call” while in class. Since then the number has risen and the amount of distractions has also expanded and increased. After an astonishing study done by Common Sense Media, the group concluded that “smartphones have become a constant companion for young people” and that, “Kids spent a median of 4.5 hours per day on their phones, with the maximum amount of time reaching 16 hours.”

Social media has become extremely popular and students have succumbed to its many wonders. They spend hours on end scrolling, causing them to become addicted to its variety of trends, preventing them from completing work and focusing on their daily tasks. Furthermore, due to the countless entertaining options available for kids on platforms like YouTube or TikTok, classrooms have become dull, and activities do not seem to stimulate students, causing them to turn to their one reliable source of amusement; their phones. This entirely defeats the purpose of school because it disrupts learning time and intercepts students’ attention and participation in classroom activities.

Academic Integrity: Cell phones have also made cheating on anything from simple worksheets to exams more doable in classes. With one quick trip to the bathroom or a text while the teacher’s back is turned, students are capable of using various websites to search for information and utilize work that is not their own. Another student from GHS, who wished to remain anonymous, claimed that “cell phones can make cheating easier because students can just look up the answers to assignments/tests.”

Devices are also advancing and improving faster than teachers can keep up with. Catching cheaters is not as easy as it used to be when kids just wrote notes down on their wrists or water bottles. The Benenson Strategy Group stated in 2009 after a study that “35% of the surveyed students have used cell phones to cheat… [and] 46% of teens admitted to texting friends about answers.” Since then numbers have rapidly increased as cell phones have updated and new apps have been installed. Preventing students from having access to these “tools” will create honest work environments and encourage students to take responsibility for their own assignments.

Social/emotional impacts: The time given at lunch or between passing periods is meant for students to have some time during the day to experience healthy, face-to-face interaction with their friends and/or peers. However, due to their constant tech companions, this time is wasted on social media platforms, preventing them from engaging with others. Real human connection is crucial for everyone, but now, with students’ faces glued to their screens and headphones plugged into their ears, phones tend to be a major assistant in the progression of social isolation. Some worry that this form of separation will lead to decreased social skills, diminished concentration, and more cyberbullying incidents. In the words of Jennifer Kelmen, “People feel good and are enhanced by interactions with others … Those feelings cannot be replicated by connecting through a phone.”

Limited Engagement: Due to students spending the majority of their time scrolling through social media on their cell phones, not only do students lose valuable amounts of sleep, but also start to struggle with in-person engagement in school with their peers, teachers, and implementing their overall participation. A student at Granada High vocalized how phones in schools can limit student engagement with school activities because “they will be less interested in classroom activities and more intrigued by what’s on their screens.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, using these devices exhaustively can result in several more emotional, cognitive, and psychological issues than just feeling out of it, including loneliness, anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, psychological disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, substance addictions, disconnected social relationships, and lower academic achievements.

Cyberbullying/ illicit photos: Finally, cell phone access during the school day can create unsafe and disrespectful learning environments as negativity online leaks into in-person classrooms. Schools are meant to be safe spaces of educational value for kids, but they are drifting further and further away from this goal. Cyberbullies thrive behind the safety of their screens and have the ability to intimidate, threaten, humiliate, or harass people all under administrators’ noses. Our anonymous speaker concurs that phones can cause cyberbullying because “people are much more bold because it’s not in person.” Cyberbullying has become a huge issue in numerous districts and can have devastating consequences if allowed to go too far. Kids will be kids, but it is completely inappropriate and inexcusable to intentionally put down others with hurtful messages or by posting embarrassing photos/videos for all to see.

Words matter, and what you say, whether face-to-face or through texts and snaps, can greatly impact somebody’s life. Megan Cooper, author of the article “10 Cons of Having Cellphones in Schools”, states “Data from the Cyberbullying Research in 2016 showed that 33.8% of students have been bullied in their lifetime, 11.9% have been threatened through a cell phone text and 11.1% have had a hurtful image of them posted” and, “By 2022, 49% of 15-17-year-old students polled by the Pew Research Center have experienced some form of cyberbullying.” These numbers are beyond unsettling and awful for kids and teens to be forced to experience. Cell phones being readily available in schools has unfortunately caused cyberbullying to become much easier to do and way more frequent.

To conclude, while the debate about allowing phones in schools continues, finding a balanced approach could help educators address and overcome the concerns while taking hold of all its advantages. To do this, we must find an effective way to establish clear guidelines and boundaries and promote digital literacy so students can use their tools in a productive, and healthy way.

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About the Contributors
Addison Giacomazzi
Addison Giacomazzi, Reporter
Addison Giacomazzi is part of the Granada high school class of 2027. Being a freshman, it is her first year as a reporter for the GHS Pomegranate. She enjoys reading and writing about worldwide topics, and informing people about them. She has been a competitive athlete in acrobatic gymnastics for nine years running, and received three national champion titles. She loves being involved with her school and is also now a member of Granada's beloved hip-hop club.
Johana Campero Reyes
Johana Campero Reyes is part of the Granada High School class of 2027 and this is her first year working for The Pomegranate. During her free time, she likes to go outside, shop, travel, and hang out with friends.

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