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How The Use of Cell Phones in Class Can Benefit Students

Lily Sontheimer and Taylor Perry

By Sophia Schmidt, North Star Staffer

Technology’s usage in classroom spaces has been debated for a while. Technology brings positive and negative effects to the classroom, but people argue whether the pros outweigh the cons and vice versa. Teachers and students at FHN explain their views on this topic.

Senior Emma Coser sits down in her sixth-hour AP European History class, phone in hand. She puts her bag beside her desk and immediately logs onto Campus Portal, an app that allows students to check their grades in real time. Her face is tense and worried: she has a lot riding on her latest test, in this very class. And all at once, she sighs. A passing grade.

With a smile on her face, she sets her phone aside, refreshed, happy and ready to start the next unit. Some teachers believe that phones are only distractions in class, used to play games during lectures and to send texts during time that should be used to do work. The fact of the matter is, if used responsibly, phones help immensely during class time.

Phones are incredibly helpful tools in the classroom. From being used as a hand-held research device to a translator to even a conduit for quizzing knowledge (did anyone say Kahoot?), they can make almost any student get involved with class in the blink of an eye. That’s not to mention all the nifty apps and websites out there that aid classroom activities, like and Campus Portal to name just a couple. According to a study by PBS, 65 percent of teachers say that technology has allowed them to teach something to their class that they can’t show other ways.

Technology used in classrooms, such as tablets, phones and computers, also offers something incredibly useful that adults use in their day-to-day jobs: instant communication. Students who have access to smartphones or other technology can easily have an added level of involvement in their academics when they can check grades, receive texts from peers or teachers about due dates, from the Remind101 program for instance, and even email their instructors if they aren’t in the vicinity. In fact, 77 percent of teachers use online instruction sites, like, according to Project America. This also helps students transition into real life responsibilities and become more independent, as they rely on only themselves to reach out to peers and superiors when they need assistance with schoolwork or projects.

Mobile devices have been proven to increase test scores when used to study online before a test or quiz. A study of high school seniors enacted by Pearson Foundation shows that 63 percent of students say they are helped by using tech like iPads in the classroom. Students know the benefits of phones in class, but they also know the responsibility of carrying one. Phones can hurt a student academically if they use it as a distraction, instead of as a tool for educational purposes. Spanish teacher Anelise Mossinghoff, for example, believes that modern-day students rely on phones to look up answers, instead of using textbooks or worksheets given to them for that same purpose. However, schools usually do a wonderful job of keeping rules in place that hold technical distractions at bay, like having restrictive Wi-Fi or giving the teacher the ability to confiscate them during class time. Mossinghoff has a box located near her desk to temporarily hold phones during class if she sees they are a distraction to the student who owns it. This is an excellent example of how schools allow teachers to control phone usage within reason. The teachers themselves should learn to trust in their students, that they will use phones for good, and the technological controls that the school has put in place will keep them, the students, learning. All in all, phones are helpful tools that aid students during school for a variety of reasons. The pros of phones always end up outweighing the cons. Sure, kids check Snapchat and watch videos during spare class time, but it shouldn’t be admonished as long as they get their assignments finished. Phones should be used as a reward for good behavior, and good assignments- not as an evil device that drops their grade percentage each second they’re used. Technology is becoming more prevalent in education this day and age- it’s time schools caught up.