Cellphones in school: Are they helpful or harmful?

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — There is a lot of debate in the worlds of education and psychology about kids and cellphones.

Are they helpful or harmful?

10 On Your Side sat down with the Jennifer Thomas, senior supervisor of Instructional Technology at Portsmouth Public Schools, to talk about technology.

“Kids are kids. They are going to, whether you allow them or not, going to bring their phones to school,” Thomas said. “They may have it in their hoodie pockets a lot of teachers have embraced it and are using it productively.”

Hampton Roads school districts have different policies on personal devices. None of them have changed their policy for this school year.

Most allow students to bring them and to use them in class when the teacher deems it appropriate.

Many teachers include personal devices in their lessons for student assessments to engage kids.

This year, Portsmouth high schools will be using an interactive science textbook on iPads. “They’ll actually be able to look and manipulate the heart and nervous system and things like that,” Thomas said.

Some criticize the use of personal devices in school. Concerns include distractions, cheating, cyber bullying, sexting and too much screen time.

The Virginia Beach School Board discussed cellphone issues at a meeting in July, but made no policy changes. The policy was referred back to the Board’s Policy Review Committee for discussion.

As for screen time Thomas said, “The big misconception is, at home, our kids are consumers of technology. They’re on their phone, they’re on their iPads, they’re on their computers and they’re consuming technology. In K-12 education, it’s a different type of technology. Our Students use technology to help demonstrate the knowledge they have learned.”

Thomas also says that cheating was a problem before technology. Teachers monitored classroom activity then and now.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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