Why mobile phones should not be allowed in schools

From an educator

Several educators have contacted me about the ever-increasing problem of mobile phones in our schools.  Some parents are at odds with the school as they want mobile phones to be allowed.  What follows are some of the reasons why mobile phones, in my opinion, are detrimental to our students.

In our role as educators, we come across issues related to mobile phones on a daily basis.  First and foremost, there is the problem of students cyberbullying each other, which then continues physically in schools. There are issues of self-esteem, where students are teased for the content that they have uploaded online. There is also the circulation of inappropriate material.

Then, there is an issue related to learning.  Mobile phones in schools lead to poor academic performance.  Students are more concerned about scrolling their mobile, rather than the learning occurring around them.  This was confirmed in 2015 in a study done by the London School of Economics.  This study reported that a 6.4% improvement in the test scores of 16-year-olds was seen when schools in four English cities banned phones. Pupils from a lower-income or disadvantaged background experienced the biggest boost in marks.  The study can be found here.  A more recent study published in 2020 confirms what was found in 2015.  Students in Spain fared better academically after mobiles were banned in schools.  Besides, levels of bullying dropped. This paper can be read here.

All of the above show that the Maltese educational system is on the right side of history when it bans mobile phones from school premises. Parents should be made aware of these issues, and studies have shown what detrimental effects mobile phones have on pupils.  Some parents just cannot understand why their son/daughter has their mobile phone confiscated or why their offspring are being given an after-school or are being excluded from school for such an offence.  This is being done to the benefit of their own children.

Mobile phones have become such an integral part of our lifestyle that parents expect their children to have one by their side every time, including during lessons. The truth is that schools are always ready to phone if a student needs to talk to a parent during school hours.  

I don’t want that this sounds degressive but mobiles are prohibited to drivers while driving their cars because mobiles distract their attention from the roads. The same holds for students. The use of mobiles in school, in particular during lessons, distracts the students’ attention from learning. Even during breaks, mobile phones should not be allowed so that cases of cyberbullying are prevented and students can be only focused on what sociologists term “primary socialization” and “cognitive development”.

For all this to be achieved, school leaders have to be resilient and strong and strive not to allow the use of such devices in schools.

One thought on “Why mobile phones should not be allowed in schools

  1. I express my thanks to you, educator, for showing the degradation in our schools. I was an educator myself and I still miss my career from which I was unjustly “spitted out” even though I had a long history of always having done my duties with excellence, because I have always put my students first.

    I had so many plans and dreams so that I could be of a better service towards schools. They destroyed them all because they do not accept to have educators offering different visions which might oppose their pride of serving in the office.

    So I can relate exactly with anything you write, in your contributions. Such a pity that public schools have been turned into indoctrination machines so that politics takes care of you the minute you start your journey of “economical contribution” to society.

    It would be appreciative shall some deep research as to how our education department has been infiltrated by some bodies, from EOs to Head of Departments to directors (you are lucky if you find a humble one with no ulterior motives) together with some politically appointed heads, whose divide and conquer modus operandi is destroying the well-being of many teachers, relating from experience.

    No wonder we have a crisis in the teaching sector, which will get worse – apart from the lack of discipline, respect and low wage which this vocation offers.

    I was once told by someone who happened to work in the department and who happened to be a friend of my family, that the department was seeking to get teachers from abroad to fill up the vacancies. MUT was opposing this. Well, schools might start mirroring Mater Dei.

    It would also be great to explore other ways of educational methods: home-schooling, Waldorf, Montessori and any other ways that research takes you to, so that alternatives are offered for the sake of true and proper education for our future generations.

    I had once met Evarist Bartolo, at his office, when he was the Minister of Education, and asked him if the gov can provide such varied methods. Unfortunately, this never materialised, although Evarist was very understanding and a good, understanding listener.

    And once I was involved in a project with a University lecturer, during my Masters thesis, who was trying to promote critical thinking in schools, and Philosophy for the Classroom, from the early stages of schooling. Again, this fell on deaf ears.

    The government is not interested in having critical thinkers.

    Thank you once again for your contribution.

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