School Shootings Spark Debate Over Cell Phone Use In School

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | 4 days ago

cell phones

The debate over how much technology students should have access to has been a topic of discussion for years. From the dangers of screen time, to distracting cell phones entering classrooms, parents and educators have struggled to find balance in the age of technology. Now, even after the deadly mass school shooting in Uvalde, Texas last month, officials are arguing over whether or not students should be allowed to use cell phones in school and they are all mostly citing safety concerns. 

When a rare, deadly school shooting occurs the most reliable line of communication parents have is their children’s cell phone. Instead of being left at the mercy of school administration — who often don’t know many details, or the police — who often cannot share details right away, parents can call students directly, or their children can phone them. It offers a perfect tool for students to call for help and describe just what’s going on and where it is happening. This could easily help law enforcement locate an intruder and better assess the situation. 

While this horrific scenario is an emotional one that terrifies parents, it is unlikely. What school officials, who are opposed to student cell phone use in school note is that they are distracting, and sometimes even endanger students due to the fact that cell phones make it easier for bullies to continue harassing their victims, can be used to track students, and even draw intruders near them. In some cases, a cell phone is the single device that makes a position known to a dangerous individual. 

While both points have valid examples and wish to work in students’ best interests, one might also wonder if the renewed push to ban cell phones from classrooms is entirely based on safety. In Uvalde, the police arrived shortly after the shooter. Some of the children in the two classrooms (where the shooter broke in and killed 19 kids and 2 teachers) had cell phones and even called 9-1-1. These students begged for help as the police stood down and allowed them to be slaughtered. 

Knowing this further complicates the debate over cell phones in schools. Had those children not been able to call for help, many people would not have discovered how long it took for action to be taken. Knowing that children were begging and crying for help as an 18-year-old walked through their school with a gun and that no one would defend them has sparked national outrage. Had those calls not come through, it is highly likely that parents would not be so furious at the mishandling of the shooting.

cell phone

Whether school officials agree or not, many parents want a direct line to reach their child. In a crisis situation everyone is calling school officials and they cannot possibly speak to everyone. Whether cell phones allow bullies or other individuals to victimize children, the fact of the matter is that these devices afford parents the opportunity to keep in touch with their children no matter what. This means that in the rare event of a mass school shooting a cell phone may be the only way that they get to hear from their kid one last time. That in and of itself is often enough reason for parents to keep sending their children to school with a phone.