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Kids, cell phones and school…Anyone?….Anyone?

Dr. Steven Heidinger writes about Ontario banning cell phones in the classroom
Wellness column by Dr. Steven Heidinger

From the, “It’s about time!” file…

The Ontario government recently announced a ban on cell phones in the classroom.  As of the beginning of the next school year, students in that province will no longer be allowed to have their cell phones during instructional hours. Let the debate begin!

Aside from my 11-year-old son (and he reminds me daily), I don’t know of anyone that doesn’t have a smart phone.  That is an exaggeration, I know, but these things have essentially become a body part. 

Us old people remember the days when these phones did not exist. If our parents needed to get in contact with us during school hours, they would phone the school and we would be paged to “come to the office.” If kids had to contact a parent, the office had the phone numbers in a filing cabinet. We all did fine!!

I fully admit there are many benefits to my older son having his cell phone, as there have been a few times when I have contacted him with changes in pickup times or other after-school activities. While this convenience is nice, does our immediate access to our kids come at a cost? And if it does, is the potential harm worth having this convenience?

There is scientific evidence suggesting that having a cell phone at school (and at work) affects attention and productivity. For students this potentially distracts them from learning. There are some detractors who will argue this, saying there isn’t enough research to support policy for an all-out ban on phones in the classroom. The argument for keeping cell phones in the classroom until we have enough evidence to show they are harming our students is like saying, “let’s keep prescribing a certain drug until we have research telling us whether it is harmful or not.”

I fear that we will go through an entire generation of school kids with cell phone access and realize too late that bans should have been enforced.

I am not a psychologist, a teacher, or a neurologist. However, I am a chiropractor, and I see a lot of student spines. Even if there is no ban on cell phones in the classroom for reasons of attention and learning deficit, the potential stress on the spine should worry us enough to limit the use of these things as much as we can. 

Every day I see kids in my office who have headache, neck and back ache due to postural stress on the spine. Cell phone use adds to the strain on the spine. I note muscle tightness in kids backs and necks that wouldn’t usually be noticed until well into adult years.

Have we gone too far to be able to successfully enforce a cell phone ban at school?

Maybe if schools don’t do it, parents should.

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