Cell phones: a blessing or curse?

Colin McGovern, Writer

In recent years, the accessibility of portable devices, like cell phones, has skyrocketed to the point where most everybody has one. A study made by the Pew Research Center in 2013 has shown that roughly 78% of teens have cell phones. Obviously, since then the percent of people owning cell phones has since risen due to the fact that children are receiving them at an earlier age. In BFA specifically, phones have become a bit of a problem. Students are using them during classes when they’re not supposed to and are getting distracted by them.

Polly Rico, a teacher at BFA, is somewhat known for her method of keeping students’ cell phones in a basket for the duration of class. “Actually I got a lot of push back when I first started doing it a couple years ago, but then I noticed that once students put their phones in the basket it’s sort of a relief that they don’t have to think about it.” Rico said.

Rico’s stance on cell phones is definitely a negative one. But even she knows they most definitely can be helpful in the classroom. “Because not every classroom is one-to-one computing sometimes cell phones can fill in that gap if you have to research or do any kind of google docs.” Rico said.

Another use that most cell phones carry is the ability to listen to music anywhere at anytime. Everybody loves listening to their favorite artists while doing dull or boring tasks. So a lot of students do this while working on a long assignment. Studies show that listening to classical music while studying or doing an assignment can stimulate a student’s learning. But then again most kids aren’t listening to Beethoven. It’s been shown that the opposite can happen to a lot of kids while listening to music because it distracts them too much.

Cell phones aren’t too great for school although, since their intended purpose is to communicate with others. This often leads to students distracting each other with texts to each other during class. “Cell phones create a huge distraction. For instance students are constantly getting notifications and constantly getting text messages… I can’t imagine how somebody can focus on the task at hand when they are getting constantly poked by their cell phones 16 times a day.” Rico said.

Recently in the art rooms a rule similar to Polly Rico’s, phones are being kept away from students. Jamie Bedard, one of the art teachers has explained that cell phones have become enough of an issue to where this needs to happen. “I would say this year because we, all of the art teachers, have said ‘let’s put the cell phones away’ it’s really helped kids stay focused.” Bedard said.

A lot of behavioral problems at BFA are caused by students refusing to stop using their phones or to give their phone up when asked to. This is because a lot of students can’t control themselves when they know there is something they can be replying to. This is what prompts some teachers that are fed up with students not paying attention to their class to want phones to be banned during class time to be a mandatory rule.

“The use of cell phones, cameras, and any other digital recording devices to record, or take pictures of students, faculty, and /or staff, is prohibited unless approved for academic purposes.” This is the exact rule regarding cell phones in the BFA Handbook. So it is not a problem of a lack of rules, it’s a lack of punishment of said rule breakers. But it’s not all black and white for it’s easy to argue that cellphones are being used for “academic purposes.”

Phones could be viewed as either a distraction, distracting students from their education. On the other hand they could be viewed as useful tools that help out in the classroom. Either way, blessing or curse, phones have a large impact in most schools in the United States, and definitely BFA.