Over the course of the last two days in school, I have introduced my students to a web based cell phone tool called Celly (cel.ly). Celly is where I can collaborate with my students instantly using text messaging on their cell phone without ever disclosing my cell number to my students or my students ever disclosing their number to me. Needless to say, I am still learning the ins and outs of this tool with my students.
Now, I teach in a very rural school district and I not only have students who do not have Internet capabilities at home, but they don’t possess a cell phone either. Obviously this can pose problems when I want my students to use their cell phones in my classroom. However, this isn’t what I wanted to discuss or write about now.
What I did want to write about is when is it appropriate as a parent to give your child a cell phone or should they even have one at all? As a teacher and a parent I can argue both sides. I have my colleagues son in class and his son is one of the students in my classes that does not have a cell phone. He asked me today if his son would fall behind academically because he didn’t have a cell phone. As I explained to him I wanted my students to write using 21st century tools and put their cell phones to use, he became very receptive to the idea and asked me if he should purchase a cell phone for his son. At this point in the conversation I assured him I had alternate tools for the students to use if they didn’t have a cell phone. He was good with my response, but included that maybe he was going to need a cell phone some day and his son should practice using one. Me being a tech guy, I liked his thinking, but I never want to push a parent. Finally, I told him my door was open to him to see how we are using cell phones in the class.
So, should students possess a cell phone? How young is too young? I have a teacher friend who teaches 5th grade and had a student’s cell phone go off in class. I know 2nd graders who carry cell phones with them and use them to get in contact with their parents in case of an emergency. I myself struggle with how early I need to allow my children to have a cell phone. My wife and I agree our children will have them, but when.
Another aspect to consider is cost. Cell phones today are becoming less expensive and that is even with unlimited texting and internet capabilities. To me, this is cheaper than a computer at home. After all, they are like a small computer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing for cell phones, just stating some points.
Finally, when are our schools going to loosen the reigns on their restrictions and rules when it comes to cell phones? Our students can be using them in the classroom to write and it could open the door to other possibilities in the classroom too.