Phones in School: A Phone Etiquette Classroom Poster

Classroom cell phone etiquette explained

Words by
Abby Alger

AUG 16, 2023

Phones in School: A Phone Etiquette Classroom Poster

Classroom cell phone etiquette explained

Cell phone use in schools is a trending topic today. Should schools ban phones to reduce screen time distractions in class, or should parents be allowed to send text messages to their children during school hours?

Opinions differ, and there is no easy answer. 

incredulous girl holding a cellphone and sign that says no cell phones

Cell Phone Use In Schools

There are always two sides to a story, and cell phone use in schools is no different. 

Phone ban advocates

Some teachers, administrators, and school boards are increasingly worried about cell phone distractions in class. [1] Some parents echo these sentiments, while others disagree. 

Phone use advocates

Cell phones have been advocated for years as a learning tool and for use during emergencies like school shootings.

In 2006, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg banned cell phones in all public schools. After years of parents demanding the law be overturned, it was lifted in 2015—citing school safety and access to family communication as the reasons. 

During school hours, the debate continues as to whether cell phones should be banned in an attempt to get students to pay attention during the day and avoid distractions.

little girl looking at cell phone

Cell Phone Ownership

Historically, cell phones were only seen in high schools and some middle schools, but now more elementary school students have cell phones as a form of emergency communication.

4 out of 5 parents provide their child a cell phone for safety and peace of mind. [2]

Research shows that between 2015 and 2021, the proportion of 8 to 10 year olds with their own smartphone doubled, with 42% of 10-year-olds having their own cell phone. [3] While phones can provide parents peace of mind, some pediatricians advise against smartphones for children.

If the reason for providing children with a cell phone is safety, then it is advised to give them one with fewer features, just enough to connect in case of an emergency. [1]

Some educators and parents believe the common ground is teaching kids phone etiquette—when phone use is appropriate and when it is not.

Phone Etiquette in Schools

In school, boundaries can be set around the use of phones and social media to teach students how to monitor them. Caregivers can make this task easier by providing resources and support.

Gabb phones have parental controls to turn off features during school hours to help children focus.

Start the conversation

Start by educating students about digital citizenship skills through programs like Be Internet Awesome.  

Simple phone etiquette games can help kids learn. The following situations can be role-played or printed out (or make your own!) as a sorting game. In which situations can you have your phone, and when is it best to put it away? 

When should I use my phone?

At dinner when my parents are talking to me?
Taking pictures with friends at an after-school event?
When my teacher is talking in class?
When I need a calculator for math homework?
During a test in class?
When I need to text a parent for a ride?
To report an emergency situation (once you are safe)?
To video record a fight at school?

These situations can be used to discuss respectful phone etiquette with older youth who feel too grown up for games.

Phone Etiquette Educational Poster

Kids can learn how to discern when phones help or distract them in school (and in life). Educators and parents can use this poster as a visual reminder to help them perfect these skills. 

Devices Up? Devices Down?

Role Models

Stay aware that kids are always watching and learning from adult examples. Remember to teach them proper phone etiquette by exhibiting proper phone usage yourself.

What do you think about phones in schools? Let us know in the comments!

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