Should cellphones be allowed in the classroom?


Olivier Cougard said, “Smart phones can also be distractions, but they are a tool to learning foreign languages.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez.

Alejandro Hernandez

Teachers explain their policies on cell phone use

Are cellphones a distraction or an asset to education? According to a 2019 study by Common Sense Media, 84 percent of teenagers have a cell phone. This leads to confrontations between teachers and students over using those devices in class. The Ventura High School student handbook said, “Students may have a cell phone/electronic device on campus. However, students must have their cell phones/electronic devices turned off during instructional time. The student may only use his/her cell phone/electronic device with a staff member’s direct permission.”

VHS English teacher Elizabeth Mainz takes a more relaxed approach to cell phones. Mainz said, “I think that phones should be allowed to be used in the classroom. You have all of the knowledge of the world in your pocket. Why wouldn’t I want students using them?” Mainz believes that phones are an asset to education, and that it is useless to fight them. Mainz said, “If we don’t allow phones in school, then how will students learn to live with them?”

Olivier Cougard said, “Smart phones can also be distractions, but they are a tool to learning foreign languages.” Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez.

Math teacher Preston Biller prefers a more restrictive approach to cell phones. Biller said, “I do think that there are some very positive things about phones, but I do see them more as a distraction.” Biller doesn’t allow phones in his classrooms, but he allows them to be used to turn in assignments on Canvas.                                

French teacher Olivier Cougard has changed his mind on classroom cell phone use. Cougard said, “In the beginning I was anti-smartphone use in the classroom, but I now understand that students have the need to communicate with their loved ones. I am still worried about privacy. There are some things that you should not do in the classroom with your smartphone and it’s hard to control 30-40 students at once.” He allows students to use their phones as long as they don’t take photos or record videos.

How does the general school population feel about this? Sophomore Siena Lightcap said, “I haven’t had my phone taken away yet, but I’ve been told to put it away. I only have one teacher who doesn’t allow phones.” 

In a google form poll of 42 VHS teachers, 79 percent of respondents (33 responses) said that they do allow cell phone use in the classroom, 63 percent (25 responses) said that cell phones are more distracting than useful and 36 percent (15 responses) agreed that it is useless to fight cell phones in the classroom.