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Insert 20 Cents, Please February 3, 2010

Posted by Lynn Christiansen Esquer in Parenting.
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What parent today hasn’t agonized over when to hand little Johnny or Janey their very own cell phone? And — alternatively — what school has been overjoyed about their students’ cell phone usage?

MSNBC is reporting teachers and administrators are wrestling with whether today’s smart cell phones’ disruptions are worth their utility as a teaching tool, and some districts are reconsidering their bans on the devices.

Oh, I can hear the chortles now: Whatever did we do without cell phones when we were kids? At the risk of aging me, the best my parents could do when I was growing up was make sure I always had 20 cents on me in case I had to make a call from a pay phone. Pay phones! Holy dodo birds, Batman, when was the last time you saw one of those?!

But — beside the fact that there’s largely no other way for Jimmy or Janey to let Mom know that practice was cancelled or, at worst, call for help when their school turns into Columbine — cell phones are becoming more and more like computers. Now that smart phones resemble tiny laptops, their educational usage is finding merit among educators. Need to know the capital of Uruguay, the GNP of Greece, or the square root of 357? Look it up on your iPhone!

And of course, there’s always the risk that kids will use them for less noble purposes, like texting, the modern day equivalent of passing notes, or finding inappropriate content on the web, or cheating. Restrictions are absolutely needed. But bans? I don’t think so.

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