Should Teens Carry Phones To School?

If you're like me, you put off getting your child a cell phone for as long as you could. Especially if you have teenage daughters and know how much time they spend on the phone. You can see yourself taking out a second mortgage just to pay the cell phone bill.

Of course, when they start going out and hanging out with friends, not to mention dating, there arise numerous scenarios wherein a cell phone might come in very handy. Thinking back to my own younger days and some of the situations I found myself in, having instant access to my parents would have been a very good thing.

One of the more recent debates concerning cell phone usage is whether or not teens should be allowed to carry their phones or iPads or whatever the latest incarnation is to school with them. There are certainly pros and cons to the subject.

Obviously the most beneficial use of a cell phone is for instant access to a parent in the event of an emergency. If a child becomes sick or needs to leave school for some other reason, it eliminates several steps that were previously needed to get in touch with the responsible parties.

Likewise if a child misses their bus home or if they become stranded somewhere. Some newer phones come equipped with GPS devices making it easy for parents to locate their children at any time.

In more extreme cases, such as recent events involving school shootings and other violence, cell phones were instrumental in helping police and other rescuers locate students hiding out in classrooms and closets.

Of course any technology can be used for nefarious purposes. Students have been known to take advantage of cell phone internet access to find test answers and use texting to communicate those answers to their friends. Such devices can also be used to facilitate the newer problem known as cyber bullying, where hurtful and offensive comments are sent to or posted about certain students. There have been documented cases of students committing suicide or other drastic acts based on problems with messages or texts sent through cell phone usage.

In addition, texting or net surfing can become a distraction from what is being done in class.

The newest and more disturbing trend in texting is known as sexting, where students send suggestive or even sexually explicit pictures of themselves to boyfriends or girlfriends. The problem is obvious enough, but amplified to the extreme once these pictures get out and are distributed (which they always inevitably will be). Teens need to be told several times over, that they should not put anything online that they are not prepared for the entire world to see. Once it is online, consider it gone. You will never get it back and it will always be on somebody's hard drive somewhere.

Cell phones may also inadvertently make children the targets of violent attacks, especially if their phone is one of the more expensive models. Being assaulted and robbed of such items is nothing new, and parents should think twice about sending their kids to school with the Cadillac phone when the Chevy version might be a better choice.

Of course some schools and states take the decision out of the parents' hands by banning cell phones altogether. This may seem like an extreme reaction to many, but this author would argue that previous generations grew up just fine without the benefit of cell phones in the classroom. In fact, it could be argued that as a result we had a healthier level of social interaction as a result of not being tied to Facebook and actually having to converse face to face.

On the other hand, as a parent with a child who has suffered from serious medical issues, I can also see the added benefit of the child having the ability to instantly communicate, especially at times where going through school channels to get access to a phone would prove problematic.

So which point of view is the right one? That is up to you to decide, based on your knowledge of your child, their behavior, and their level of responsibility. Handled the right way, technology is our friend. Handled the wrong way, it can become a serious problem. Make the determination that is right for you and your family.

For more on the subject, check out the following online debate.

Billy D. Ritchie
Director Of Content
Leadsbyfone, LLC
Billy is a freelance writer and Director of Content for Leadsbyfone LLC. Visit him online at his blog.

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