Technology has become an important part of every classroom—and that’s not a bad thing. When you enter an elementary school classroom in 2022, you’ll likely see kids typing up reports on school laptops, teachers using a projector to show videos, and students studying their textbooks on an iPad.
So what about phones?
According to NPR, 53% of kids own a cell phone by age 11, with over 84% entering the mobile world by the time they’re a teen. With these statistics, it’s inevitable that many students take phones to school. And while phones can be distracting, they are a valuable educational tool when used correctly. After all, cell phones have a bundle of benefits that help make learning easier, accessible, and entertaining.
So why should phones be allowed in school? Well, if the easy access to information and utility as a classroom resource don’t convince you, one of these twenty reasons should:
- Educational apps and games make learning fun! Education is exciting. Learning new things should be an enjoyable endeavor for people of all ages, but some kids look at learning as a boring waste of time. Thankfully, there are a plethora of fun apps and games that make learning fun again—and many of these apps are available on Troomi phones! Click here to learn a little more about Troomi’s fun and educational KidSmart® apps, and then click here to see what amazing plans are available.
- Students can access digital learning material on their phones. Resources like news stories, blog posts, and magazine articles are valuable learning materials in the classroom. This is especially the case in history and writing courses, where studying a variety of sources aids in a student’s understanding.
- Students can access educational videos. Imagine how much stronger learning about Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech would be by hearing the words from the man himself. With a phone, it’s easier than ever to watch educational videos like historic speeches, lectures, and even exciting science experiments.
- Cell phone e-readers make textbooks more accessible than ever. Textbooks are a necessary part of many classes, but their high cost and heavy weight often gets in the way of educational accessibility. With a phone’s e-reader capability, however, most textbooks are available at the tap of a finger, giving students the information they need to excel in any course they take.
- Making cell phones a classroom resource introduces necessary tech skills early. In today’s world, technological know-how is an absolute must. By introducing cell phones to the classroom, teachers have the ability to help their students learn how to use technology responsibly and appropriately. Start by teaching them some basic tech lingo!
- Educational exposure to phones teaches kids the basics of digital citizenship. Knowing how to work a phone is one thing, but using it appropriately is another. Being a digital citizen means knowing how to engage with technology in a positive and beneficial way. Digital citizenship skills are absolutely vital in today’s world, and there’s no better place to learn them than in the classroom.
- Quiz games like Kahoot! make phones a participation tool. A ton of my high school and university teachers used online quiz games like Kahoot! to get students interested and engaged in a lesson. Students connect to a teacher’s quiz with their phones, then use their device as a controller to answer questions and test their knowledge.
- Phones help kids get quick answers to important questions. Oftentimes in a classroom, the teacher doesn’t get the opportunity to answer every student’s question. In this case, a phone can be a great resource!
- Online encyclopedias satisfy a student’s curiosity. Kids are naturally curious people, and a phone provides easy answers to their questions. Do they want to know who fought in the Battle of Waterloo? Or perhaps they’re interested in knowing who first discovered America (hint: it wasn’t Columbus). Gone are the days of digging through 1,000 page encyclopedias to find the answers. Now all it takes is a few clicks through online resources like Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Cell phones can be used as calculators. Remember when you weren’t allowed to use a calculator in math class, because the teacher said you wouldn’t have one with you in your everyday life? Well the times have changed; now, we carry a calculator with us all the time! Teaching students to use the calculator on their phones is a valuable skill that will only deepen their grasp of mathematical concepts.
- Students can look up definitions on their phone’s dictionary. The English language is lexically vast, and it’s inevitable that kids will stumble upon words they aren’t familiar with as they practice reading. Most cell phones have a built-in dictionary. All it takes is a few taps (or a question to Siri) to learn what new words mean, how they’re used in a sentence, and if they have any synonyms.
- Phones help kids learn how to organize. In the twenty-first century, phones are the key to coordination. These little devices are a powerhouse of organization, helping students stay on top of tasks, homework assignments, deadlines, and other projects. These are no longer the days of only paper yearly planners and to-do lists—now, planning can be done digitally on your phone.
- Cell phones feature a built-in timer. Whether your little student is timing their mile in gym class or racing with a friend to complete a math worksheet, timers are an indispensable classroom tool. When I taught first grade, we used timers to help students stay on task. When a student worked hard and focused on one task for 30 minutes, they got a short break before the cycle began again. It worked wonders!
- Kids can check in with parents about the day’s plan. For kids with acute anxiety and ADHD, a routine schedule can mean the difference between chaos and serenity. Of course, kids may forget what that plan is and start feeling anxious as a result. A cell phone makes it easy to refresh their brain and restore composure—all it takes is a text.
- Teachers can send messages to students through Canvas or Google Classroom. Communicating with teachers is easy with online learning platforms like Canvas and Google Classroom. What’s more, both of these apps are available on Troomi phones!
- Kids can contact parents when there’s an emergency. Life is unpredictable, and it’s impossible to plan for every emergency. In the case of a medical emergency, fire, or natural disaster, phones make it easy for children and teens alike to get in touch with their parents.
- Parents can contact kids in the case of an emergency. Sometimes the situation is reversed and parents need to get in touch with their kids. Keeping a cell phone on hand makes navigating emergencies less stressful than ever before. In trying times, one little text that reads, “I’m OK,” can work wonders for a parent’s peace of mind.
- Phones make it easy to connect with classmates. And no, we’re not talking about connecting on SnapChat. On the Troomi blog we’ve talked a lot about the dangers and downsides to social media. While we don’t recommend social media, phones can be a valuable tool to connect classroom peers just with a phone call or text!
- Phones teach kids responsibility. In most classrooms, there are consequences that come with using your phone inappropriately during class time. Teaching kids to use their phone responsibly during class is a great way to model responsible phone usage later in life. Eliminating phones from schools entirely robs students of the chance to learn this valuable lesson.
- Phones help kids create memories with friends. Phones have a lot of educational potential, but that’s not all. They’re also an amazing tool when it comes to connection and socializing! Kids can use phones to share music with friends, tell jokes over text, and take pictures of their favorite moments. Allowing phones at school makes these meaningful moments all the more frequent.
As parents, we want to see our children succeed inside and outside of the classroom. By allowing children to use phones as an educational resource (at appropriate times), we encourage them to properly engage with a phone. After all, healthy habits start early, and appropriate phone usage is one of the most important habits to have mastered.