Cellphones in the classroom are not a great mix with some research even showing that student achievement went down as much as 20 per cent when phones were in class.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce says restrictions on cellphones in Ontario classrooms will come into effect in November.
“When in class, students should be focused on their studies, not their social media,” Lecce said in a written statement. “That’s why we are restricting cellphones and other personal mobile devices in the classroom, while making sure technology is available to help students achieve success in the digital economy and modern workforce.”
The policy which still allows teachers to let students use their phones for educational purposes — was announced earlier this year by Lecce’s predecessor, Lisa Thompson.
It will be in place as of Nov. 4, but will exempt special-needs students or those who need a phone for medical purposes.
During education consultations launched last fall by the province, respondents largely supported some limits on cellphone use in classrooms.
Some critics say that this strategy will be unenforceable, causing conflict between teachers and students, and raise issues about who is responsible for confiscated devices.
Teachers’ unions say it’s best that students learn how to use their devices responsibly.
“Teachers already decide when to ban cellphones in the classroom, and when to use devices as an educational tool,” said NDP education critic Marit Stiles. “I don’t know why (Premier) Doug Ford thinks he’s better at being a teacher than actual teachers.”
History of Cellphone Policies
The Toronto District School Board tried to ban cellphones about a decade ago. In New York, the school board there ended its ban and allowed schools to come up with their own policies, given that parents like to be able to reach their students if necessary during the day.
In Michigan, one school board began its ban on phones saying research has found cellphone use at school is distracting and can also lead to bullying or mental-health issues.
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