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Rebels: Better ways than a ban

From Mr Michael Leo, Student living in Dubai

I don’t think banning is the right way to go about this because if you don’t want students to use mobile phones in school, implementing a ban is the the worst possible way to do it. Teachers understand that a lot of students need to stay in touch with their parents, so if students are allowed to bring in their phones, they leave it with their teachers throughout the day. But if you ban something, it generally tends to make the problem worse if you tell people they can’t use something, especially when it comes to young people as they like to defy authority. If you don’t want them to be distracted, there are much better ways to do it.

I am not saying they should allow students to use mobile phones in school because that would be equally disastrous. But at school, we are allowed to bring in tablets or laptops, especially when teachers ask us to do research. If, for example, we are discussing a topic in class and there isn’t enough information on a particular subject, our teacher might say, “Why don’t you look it up online?” She would then give us a few minutes to do an online search and then we provide a short summary of what we found. This means that we have access to the internet, but in a good way.

Distraction: The negatives outweigh the positives

From Ms Mahnaaz Sheikh, Entrepreneur living in Dubai

France has always been in the news for infamous bans but as the mother of a 10-year-old, I seem to concur with this ‘ban mobiles in schools’ action. No, I do not allow my 10-year-old and wouldn’t allow him when he is a 17-year-old and if in school. Children should only be handed a mobile in school if they are taking public transport, which is rarely the case here. The primary use of a mobile phone is connectivity and that is not an issue in schools, since they are in a boundary and parents can reach them through the school. It is rather better for children to connect personally with their peers and concentrate on school work. Schools are not just for academics, they are a training ground to develop strong interpersonal skills, compassion and personal communication and mobile phones in schools are detrimental to the same. Moreover, the list of negatives is endless – lack of personal communication, unrestricted access through 3G/4G as schools run on a secured, closed WiFi system, phone cameras can be used negatively and additional vigilance is required on part of the class teachers, which is another distraction. Then it won’t end with just phones, which make or brand children use will add on to the status disparity. Schools have to already work on anti-bullying campaigns, they will have to add ‘misuse of phone’ campaigns. Not all parents are responsible enough to keep a track of what their children do. So, when the negatives outweigh the insignificant benefit of connectivity, then it is better to keep phones out. Generations in the past and present managed, and I’m sure the new generation will get through school life without it to say the least.

Disastrous: Were we not studying well before mobile phones?

From Dr Kannan Kesavan, Director of a company based in Dubai

Mobile, not only for students, but to the entire human race, is a disastrous invention. It not only affects your eyesight, but also the neck, shoulder, arms and even your backbone. Everyone has become addicted to this and cannot quit, even though they are well aware that this is spoiling their health, time and money, in particular homemakers and students. Without knowing the genuineness of the message, people decide that it is their duty to forward what they receive, which at times can spoil someone’s life. Coming to students, one could claim that it is very useful for studying. Particularly since teachers and class or group leaders can send messages even late at night due to which the student needs to check their mobile every now and then. I have witnessed this myself. Many students who could not be monitored by parents who might be busy get spoiled by playing games and watching other sites.

I wonder, before mobile phone, was life not moving well? Was no one studying well or was aware of the latest updates? If you really need to stay abreast with the latest technology, why not use emails to communicate? Besides this, why don’t they plan well in advance, instead of using Whatsapp? Someone has to bell the cat and the big question is: Who?

Social media debate

On social media, teachers and parents debated whether such a ban was practical and necessary. Many claimed children need phones, especially in case of emergency.

[Facebook+Picture] Peter Holmes: Kids don’t need a smartphone, if they need to make calls for emergency the schools and teachers have phones. My kids would have a basic mobile for calls and texts in case of emergency. They wouldn’t need a smartphone until they’re 15+

[Facebook] April Dery: As a teacher in Canada, I find it difficult to get students to stay off their phones during class when they should be listening to the lesson being taught or working on an assignment. Many students are addicted to texting/social media. Phones can be useful for their use as a dictionary or to research info on the internet as computers are not always at our disposal. I often have to take away students’ phones so they will be present in whatever the class activity is.

[Facebook] Sakis Tassoudis: Why not turn mobile phones to learning tools? Living in the digital age should easily support a BYOD (Bring your own device) program in schools. Guess the inhibitor is primarily the adjustment of the learning curriculums to reality and the investment needed for this, from the governments.

[Twitter+Pic] @tes: Banning mobile phones isn’t a new thing, it’s more of a ‘turning back the clock’.