It’s convenient; it’s pragmatic; it gives you peace of mind.

It engages you in what is happening in the world, but at the same time drags your mind and focus into another realm – into a fabricated world that is real, but, somehow not at the same time.

It can assist you with your daily activities and homework, and can help you be more organized and productive, but can also be a time-wasting distraction.

It’s a Catch-22, and, thus, and a thorn in the side of public education administrators since possession of cell phones became mainstream for school-age children in the late 2000s.

Schools are left unsure how to deal with the consequences of students using personal devices on school property. An example is students taking pictures of other students and posting them online. Not only is this a violation of privacy; it also promotes bullying.

There’s also the problem of how to monitor what students are posting to social media while they are at school and whether that should be a responsibility of the school at all. What becomes overreaching?

Additionally, it makes it easy for students to cheat by texting friends, taking pictures of tests, or Googling answers.

It seems the discussion wavers each year whether to incorporate the burgeoning technology into instructional practices, or to keep it out of students’ hands. The struggle, it seems, has been finding and enforcing a middle-of-the-road policy that allows students to have phones on campus without misusing them.

Many schools have a tendency to flip-flop policies year to year, giving students unclear expectations.

A recent graduate of a four-year university, and semi-recent graduate of a local high school, I can say that cell phone restrictions are almost impossible to enforce.

In 2017, independent research from Survata found that 94 percent of college students wanted to use their cell phones in the classroom for academic purposes. However, 54 percent admitted to using their cell phones to text friends and 52 percent used them to browse social media during class.

Dothan City Schools is in the middle of ruminating on the cell phone issue after meetings with parents showed a divergence of thought on the subject.

They are currently soliciting advice on the matter from the public in the form of a survey.

They are unlikely to find something satisfactory for everyone as even scholarly debates and research have not yielded a suitable compromise, but I guess, like most issues, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

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