Should cell phones be banned in B.C. schools?

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Should cell phones be banned in schools?
Some provinces have already placed limits on personal electronic devices in the classroom, and the B.C. government says it's studying the issue. Angela Jung has the story – Jan 3, 2024

It’s a debate that has had strong opinions on either side: should cell phones be banned in B.C. schools?

Some provinces have already placed limits on personal electronic devices in the classroom.

“There’s no doubt that the unregulated free-range use of cell phones within classrooms can be problematic for sure,” said Darren Laur of White Hatter.

Laur accumulated 30 years of experience in law enforcement before retiring as a staff sergeant with Victoria Police. He, and the White Hatter team, have facilitated comprehensive internet and social media safety and digital literacy programs to more than 1,000 schools, reaching over 600,000 youth, according to its website.

When Quebec students return to school next week, cell phones will be banned except for learning activities. It’s the second province to implement strict rules after Ontario.

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“The reason why we want to do it is because we want to help with the concentration of kids,” said Bernard Drainville, Quebec Education Minister.

Some parents would like to see B.C. do the same.

“I think just having a top-down approach … I think is great (to limit phones),” said Lisa Connel, a Tillicum Elementary PAC member.

The B.C. Ministry of Education offered a statement regarding the situation.

“School districts in B.C. currently manage cell phone use (and) many districts have policies in place restricting student cell phone access at school,” a spokesperson said.

“Principals and teachers also have the ability to restrict cell phone use in classrooms.”

However, Connell said more robust rules would make it easier for teachers and staff.

“They already have enough on their plate. I don’t feel like this is something that should be mandated from a school district level. I think the reason I like it being a provincial-wide regulation is because then everybody in the province is on the same footing,” she said.

Laur added that “If we’re going to teach our kids how to use these devices, in a reasonable way in today’s online world, what better way to do that than in a classroom than in schools?”

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The Ministry of Education also said it is re-evaluating its policies regarding phones in schools, so it appears the question of phones in schools is far from over.

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