Nicole Vaz said banning cellphones and personal electronic devices in Ontario schools ignores the value of technology in today's educations system. Pixabay

Speaking Out: Do smartphones have a place in class?

By  Nicole Vas, Speaking Out
  • March 28, 2019
Whether it’s online shopping, banking or even dating, it’s as if we can live our lives entirely online. This is why the news about the banning of cellphones in all classes across Ontario next school year came as a surprise to me. The exceptions to the ban are when they are used as part of a teacher’s lesson, or for students with medical or special needs.

While I’m not in support of the ban, my view on the situation is very different than the majority of students my age. Unlike most students, I choose not to bring my phone to school with me to limit my distractions during the day.  

Rather than refreshing my Instagram feed, sending snaps and replying to texts, I try to listen and participate in class lessons and discussions. So in all honesty, this new rule shouldn’t directly affect me.

All of us have felt the urge to check and refresh our phones because we have this fear of missing out. We feel the need to save every moment of our lives without realizing that we are passing on the chance to experience the moments that are right in front of us.  

With this being said, I do know the importance of technology, especially in a classroom setting. Teachers often post assignments, homework and class announcements online, not only making it easier for students to keep up with their school work, but also providing an environmentally-friendly option.

Most schools already recognize technology’s place in the classroom and have their own policies. For example, my school sends out Personal Electronic Device (PED) contracts that students and parents must sign at the beginning of each school year, outlining student’s restrictions with the use of board wi-fi and their PEDs in school.  

While I do understand the intention of enforcing this rule as a way to limit student cellphone use in class, I think that it’s a repetition of the existing rules.  

I believe that every teacher should have the opportunity to enforce cellphone rules that best fit their teaching style. Some teachers prefer the traditional pencil-and-paper style classroom, while others may be more eager to integrate technology into their lessons.  

In either case, I think it is important to allow teachers to have a final say in this classroom rule, not only for the sake of convenience, but to also ensure that they can teach and help their students in an environment in which they are most comfortable.  

So while I believe it is important to unplug and separate ourselves from our screens once in a while, I also understand the importance and the value of technology in our education system.

The news of this new rule may seem insignificant compared to the other things we read about or watch on the news. However, it is important to remember that this rule will be affecting the learning environment of both kids and teenagers, the future leaders of society.  

(Vaz, 17, is a Grade 12 student at Fr. Michael Goetz Secondary School in Mississauga, Ont.)

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