Bad Things About Cell Phones in School

By Robert Schrader

Updated September 28, 2017

Giving your school-aged child a cell phone has a very positive effect, namely that he can get in contact with you at any time during the day. This being said, at school -- and, in particular, within the classroom -- cell phones present a range of problems. As educational publisher Glencoe says in an editorial on its website, "...although cell phone bans have largely been removed, the problems — or distractions — of cell phone technology have only increased." Some of the worst are some of the most common.

Off-Task Behavior

These days, cell phones aren't just used for making calls. In addition to sending text messages, some "smart phones" -- such as Apple's iPhone, the BlackBerry and phones with "Android" technology -- possess full e-mail and Internet capabilities. Students who brings these cell phones into the classroom can discreetly utilize any or all of these features to distract themselves from their task at hand, minimizing their exposure to assigned curriculum and activities.

Whole-Class Distractions

A single cell phone has the potential not only to get one student off-task, but in some instances, the entire class. The most basic means by which this happens is when a cell phone rings during the middle of class, diverting students' attention toward the startling noise. A student with a cell phone may also encourage others to participate in the game on his cell phone or share information that comes up on the Internet.


Students can take advantage of cell phones' Internet capabilities not only to access extraneous information and games that completely distract them from their tasks at hand, but also to seek out answers to questions for tests and quizzes for which they haven't studied. Having a palm-sized Internet connection may give students the opportunity to cheat discreetly, so teachers should have students surrender cell phones prior to handing out test or quiz packets and answer sheets.

Antisocial Behavior

If a student has a cell phone -- particularly one with an Internet connection -- it reduces and, in some cases, eliminates his necessity to communicate with other students, teachers and staff in the present moment of the school day, be it for group projects, school business or simply during designated social periods. Rather than doing a collaborative brainstorm with her partner, for example, a student with a cell phone may opt to consult her web browser for ideas to use in class.