The debate about cell phone use in school is ongoing, and for good reason. As Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center explains, there are many pros and cons of children having cell phones. “Because so many children use their cell phones—or more accurately, their smartphones—for so much more than making phone calls, they can be very distracting, whether children are in class or doing homework,” she explains. “However, there are also some very real benefits of having a smartphone. Huntington lists these six ways that smartphones can enhance children’s learning:
- Keeping track of homework – Many students like a paper planner, but keeping track of homework and project due dates is made easy with homework/planner smartphone apps. Because students often carry their phones with them wherever they go, it makes recording and checking in on daily deadlines and upcoming work fast and simple.
- Setting other reminders – The reminder/task functions on the smartphone are a great way for students to keep running to-do lists and add to them throughout the day. Your child can remind him or herself to do things like refill the pencil bag, attend that before-school club meeting tomorrow or request a letter of recommendation from a teacher for an upcoming scholarship application deadline.
- Looking up facts – The internet offers endless research possibilities for students. When teachers mention unfamiliar terms or dates, your child can quickly look them up without skipping a beat.
- Taking photos, video or audio of confusing concepts – Teachers move quickly sometimes, especially in high school. With permission, students can take photos of the board or video and/or audio clips of particularly confusing concepts to reference later when studying at home.
- Note taking – The reality is, most students are quick on their phones—much quicker than they are taking longhand notes. And apps like Evernote allow your child to capture ideas in his or her notes as well as video, web urls, photos and more. Then, your child can organize those notes in whatever way feels most logical.
- Accessing educational apps – Chances are, your child’s teacher uses at least a couple of learning apps, whether to remind students of assignments or share documents and assignment information. There are many excellent educational and learning apps out there, after all, that help students improve their study habits and be more organized, and bring teachers’ lessons to life. Smartphones make it easy for your child to access those tools when on the go.
Huntington reminds parents that while smartphones can be a distraction, they can also be an excellent learning tool. “The benefits that cell phones bring to the educational experience are undeniable,” she says. “As with all technology, it’s a good idea for parents to talk with their children about the importance of using their phones appropriately at school and always. Without a doubt, smartphones are a gateway to information, and if used appropriately, have the potential to enhance students’ learning.”