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Mobile phones: a boon, a beast

Written By : General Editor. Mobile telephones are a boon and a beast. They’re so useful when you need them and so annoying when you don’t. But whichever way we
04 Jun 2008 12:00

Written By : General Editor. Mobile telephones are a boon and a beast. They’re so useful when you need them and so annoying when you don’t. But whichever way we may feel about them, mobile phones are here to stay.
For many of us our mobiles are fashion statements, our ringtones are personal statements and – for some of us at least – the more they ring the more important we appear to be.
If you’re not sure how to use your mobile phone’s features, go to the nearest under-12 and find out how.
It now seems as though some children are born with mobile phones. Those small keypads are made for tiny fingers that can send text messages with bewildering speed and dexterity.
But should they be allowed at school?
No, says the Ministry of Education, they are a distraction and have no place in a teaching environment. The ministry has banned them as a result.
However, not all parents agree. They want their children to have access to them in time of emergency. If a child is difficulty on the way to school or on the way from school – or even at school – a mobile phone is often their only way of calling for help.
And in these troubled times what parent would not want their child to have a lifeline when in need?
Surely the Ministry of Education is being heavy handed here. The decision on whether children carry mobile phones is one for the parents, not the ministry.
At the same time anyone can understand that no teacher can be expected to do his or her job adequately in a room where mobile phones are ringing every other minute just as students cannot be expected to concentrate in an environment punctuated by the sound of personalised ringtones.
So there needs to be a middle road.
Many overseas schools permit students to bring mobile phones on condition they are switched off in class. In many cases teachers are empowered to confiscate the mobiles of persistent offenders.
That seems much safer than a blanket ban.
In that way, parents who work or stay home can feel easier in their minds that their loved ones can reach them in an emergency.
Meanwhile teachers can get on with their jobs without the constant distraction of mobile phone calls being made and received.



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