Rather than ban cellphones from schools, parents and educators should work to ensure young people are taught to use them responsibly, argues Beau Simpson. (Photo: Pixabay)

Opinion

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

If you’re a parent of a teen or pre-teen, then you understand what I mean when I say that separating a young adult from their smart phone is like trying to sneeze with your eyes open.

You likely don’t need statistics or studies to convince you that teens and smart phones are as inseparable as pimples and puberty.

But I’m going to throw some at you anyway.

Ninety-five per cent of teens now say they have a smart phone or have access to one. And 45 per cent say they are online on a near-constant basis, according to a recent Pew Research Centre survey.

Smartphone ownership is nearly universal among teens of different genders, races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

That’s a cold, hard fact.

And as parents wrestle with strategies to manage what some would call an unhealthy addiction, so do lawmakers and educators around the world.

Some are banning them outright.

In July of 2018, the French government passed a law banning cell phones in schools. And closer to home, cellphones will be banned from Ontario’s schools starting this September.

“Ontario’s students need to be able to focus on their learning — not their cellphones,” Ontario Education Minister Lisa Thompson told Canadian Press last week.

Luckily, our province has it right when it comes to students using their cell phones in schools. B.C. won’t follow in Ontario’s footsteps in implementing a cellphone ban. Rather, the decision will remain with school districts.

Some argue the bans are necessary to “detox” teenagers from their phones.

I see their point.

Some of our community’s young people do seem to be a little too attached to their phones. And it is true that the distractions that come with them pose difficult challenges even for the most organized and self-disciplined adults among us.

But, aside from the next-to-impossible challenge of enforcement, banning cell phones from schools is much too simplistic a solution for such a complex issue.

Besides, it’s widely known that today’s smartphones have more computing power than all of NASA did when it started sending astronauts to the moon.

Why would we want to yank that awesome computing power out of our students’ hands?

With WiFi in schools, cellphones allow students to instantly search for information, collaborate through shared documents and communicate with their parents, fellow students and teachers.

Studies have shown that students rely on calendar apps to stay organized, and on alarms to keep them on time and mindful of homework.

Sure, they might use it to post the occasional bathroom mirror selfie, but students also use their smartphone cameras to take photos of teacher notes and assignments.

Teaching our kids how to harness their smart phone’s power and use it wisely is the only way to go.

Parents and educators alike know how hard it is to separate kids from their phones.

So let’s stop trying.

Setting parameters and teaching them how to use smart phone technology properly will serve them so much better than simply yanking it from their young and inexperienced hands.

And when our kids falter?

A few bathroom mirror selfies and Fortnite memes on Instagram won’t kill us.

Beau Simpson is editor of the Surrey Now-Leader. You can email him at beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com.



beau.simpson@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

B.C. premier says Greyhound replacement news could come shortly

Province is working with the private sector to find a solution, says premier

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: mix of sun and clouds

Environment Canada is calling for a chance of rain and risk of thunderstorms across the Okanagan tonight

Mellalieu running for Greens again in Central-Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola

Robert Mellalieu ran for federal Green Party in 2015 election and provincial Greens in 2017

Memorials set up to honour Antarctica explorer

In 1913, two memorials in Summerland honoured Naval Officer Robert Scott

Multiple crashes slow traffic on Coquihalla south of Kamloops

Drivers are expected to be stuck for up to 90 minutes

Astronaut David Saint-Jacques returns to Earth, sets Canadian space record

Native of Saint-Lambert, Que., set a record for longest single spaceflight by a Canadian at 204 days

PHOTO: Moose cow and calf relax in Williams Lake flower garden

The homeowners got a surprise when they checked their most recent surveillance footage

Holi: Festival of Colours celebrated in the South Okanagan

Kismet Estate Winery, in Oliver, celebrated Holi with their guests last weekend

Small plane crashes in Okanagan Lake

RCMP say wheels left down caused landing plane to overturn on lake

The world’s Indigenous speakers gather in B.C.’s capital to revitalize languages

Organizers estimate about 1,000 delegates from 20 countries will be at the conference

Join talks on international treaty: B.C. First Nations mark ‘historic moment’

Representatives of the Ktunaxa, Syilx/Okanagan and Secwepemc Nations participated

Companies need clearer rules on workplace relationships, study suggests

One-third of Canadians have been in love at work, and half say no policy on the matter exists

Okanagan bylaw officer best in B.C.

Al Harrison of Vernon named Bylaw Officer of the Year at annual association conference

Peachland residents worry about lug-nut thief

Several Facebook users agreed that someone is tampering with their cars

Most Read