Schools have one basic function: to educate students. By prohibiting cell phone use, schools allow students to concentrate solely on academic and social activities that take place at the actual school. Students have access to phones if they need to make an emergency call, eliminating the need for cell phones during school hours.
When a student brings a cell phone to school, it is an open invitation for distraction. Kids have a hard enough time paying attention in school. Typically, the rest of their friends should be in school too, so there's no reason to have a cell phone in school. If there is an emergency, the school staff would let the student make an necessary phone calls; the only other reason a student would need a phone during school would be for distractions.
Yes, it is appropriate for schools to ban the use of cell phones on the premises. Cell phones are distracting and pull students attention away from learning. Many children have admitted to texting during class, when they should be reading or listening to a lecture. This is not only disrespectful toward the teacher, but short changes the children by not allowing them to take full advantage of their educational time.
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While phones should not be used during classes, completely prohibiting them on the whole premises is going overboard. Phones are essential for students to arrange rides home with parents or update them on after school activities. Students also often use phones to keep track of important dates and deadlines, such as tests or when major projects are due.