Local educators, parents torn on cellphone use in schools - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Local educators, parents torn on cellphone use in schools

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Parents and teachers are concerned over cell phone use in schools. (WFSB) Parents and teachers are concerned over cell phone use in schools. (WFSB)

With school right around the corner, educators are weighing the pros and the cons of cell phones in classes.

Cellphones allow people to have access to the world with the push of a button.

But teachers believe there's also a downside to cellphones, especially inside a classroom.

Channel 3's Erin Connolly spoke with educators and parents who are torn on the issue.

Lisa Porcelli is a professor at Quinnipiac University's School of Education and also teaches math at North Haven High School.

She said teachers are trying to find a balance in their students technology use.

"On the positive side, students have answers to every question that they could possibly ask right at their fingertips but knowing when and how to use it is really the struggle I see that we're having in the classroom now as teachers," said Porcelli.

Many parents agree that cell phones can be a negative distraction. 

"There's so many apps nowadays and social media is more entertaining than what is getting put down on the board," said parent Kenya Salgado.

A study by the London School of Economics showed schools that ban students from bringing phones to class see an improvement in test scores by an average 6.4 percent.

"If a student struggles in [a subject] or doesn't have an interest in it, they may just want to take their cell phone out and give them something to do," said Porcelli.

The impact on underachieving students is even more significant…their average test scores rose by 14 percent.

"I think it should be appropriately monitored by the teachers and there is an appropriate time to use them as well as a time to turn them off," said parent Kelly Briles of Wallingford.

A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project determined that schools which allowed cell phones found 71 percent of students texted in class.

For schools that banned cell phones, that number was 58 percent.

However, parents like Edward Hernandez, of New Haven, also feel that their kids having cellphones with them at school is important due to recent mass shootings.

"I think they should have it. I mean in case something like Columbine happens again they'll be able to alert their parents," said Hernandez.

In Connecticut, cell phone policies are determined by each school district. These policies across the state vary from very strict to lenient.

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