Editorial: Smartphones are here to stay

A high school should be the last place you find opposition to progress.

Yet, every so often, one school district or another attempts to block access to social media channels like Facebook, Snapchat or whatever is the latest craze. In Ontario they are even attempting to restrict smartphones altogether, but in the long run, this ill-thought-out policy is doomed.

First, Ontario’s restrictions are no more than what would be polite, or even already in place by classroom teachers.

And if teens are really determined to use their phones, they will find a way.

But mostly, trying to restrict technology is impossible. Whatever rules you think are workable today, aren’t going to be a year or two from now, as tech become more and more integrated with our daily lives.

It’s kind of like the story of the boy with his finger in the dyke trying to hold back the flood, except, in this case, more holes are appearing all the time.

On the other hand, educators in schools could do just that: educate. Social media, instant access to information and all the other things that come with living in the Information Age are an integral part of our lives.

There are many things, though, that they need to learn. Proper use of technology and smartphone etiquette should be a formal course, taught at all grade levels.

Not pulling out your phone to text a friend while a teacher is on stage would be a basic rule, the same as passing notes in class has always been forbidden.

It’s certainly reasonable for teachers to require students to put their devices away if they aren’t required in class, but it’s just as reasonable for students to make use of them when needed.

There was a time when the use of electronic calculators was forbidden. That eventually failed as they became more common.

There is no point in trying to turn the clock back or make inflexible rules; there is just no telling what changes tech will bring in the future.

The way forward is not to say no, but to teach when and how.

– Black Press Media

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