We now have the results from our survey on cell phone use in schools. 

Following last week’s news that the Hanover School Board decided to ban kindergarten to grade 8 students from using cell phones in school, we asked you to weigh in and tell us if you think cell phones should be allowed in elementary, middle, or high schools.  

752 people responded to the survey. In addition to a poll for each school level, we gave the community an opportunity to fill out a comment section and many people shared their thoughts.  

How should schools regulate cell phone use by students? Grades 9-12:

The most diverse response rolled in when we asked how schools should regulate cell phone use for grades 9 through 12. Of the 752 people who responded to the survey, 57 per cent believe phone use should be allowed during breaks, 40 per cent believe phone use not be allowed during the school day and three per cent believe phones should be unregulated. 

One respondent says “I agree that cell phones should be limited but with students working after school jobs, etc., I don't really have an issue with cell phones being used between classes.” 

Another notes “It’s very hard to regulate someone that age to keep a cellphone away for all or most of the day since they are teens and that’s their method of communication with friends, sports teams, and family members. That being said I think it could be encouraged to be kept away during class time as much as possible.” 

One parent notes “Absolutely No phones in class! I’m seeing this firsthand with my grade 12 who is graduating in a few weeks and the use of cell phones in class restricts the ability to focus and results in low grades and a lot of stress coming up to exams. During breaks I think cells are ok but they need to stay out of every classroom.” 

Others say phones should be allowed but controlled in class. “Often a phone is a common learning adaptation and should be allowed to be used for this purpose if it is part of an adaptation or learning plan.” 

Consistent with the data collected, many people believe cell phone use should be banned for all students during the day including high schoolers.  

One person says a ban in middle school and elementary school could make way for a ban on cell phone use in high school. 

“I would like to say no phone use during the day, but I think you’d have a rebellion on your hands. This age group has been allowed for too long to just break it off completely and there would probably be some negative withdrawal. Having said that, once you start in K to 8, those kids would be used to it, and you could implement it in 9-12 in a few years' time.” 

A graph of survey responses

How should schools regulate cell phone use by students? Grades 5-8:

When we asked how cell phone use should be regulated for middle years' students, the numbers swung dramatically in favour of an outright ban. 89 per cent believe phone use should not be allowed during the school day and just 11 per cent believe phone use should be allowed during breaks. Only two respondents believe phones should be unregulated. 

Someone who identified themselves as a middle school teacher says “I see phone use during breaks as problematic as well. It could easily lead to late return to class and still cause social concerns.” 

One respondent notes, “No cell phone use should be allowed. However, kids may need to have a cell phone in their backpack. For walking students, limited landlines in today's technological age, and lack of listed phone numbers means cell phones are an important way for parents to keep tabs on their kids between after school and arrival at home. Particularly at an age where kids become more social and into extracurriculars.” 

Another agrees, noting some kids babysit right after school or are home alone before their parents return home from work. Still another adds, “Coming back from a volleyball game in the evening and trying to coordinate a pickup time was a pain.” 

As the poll would suggest, there are still a number of respondents that are in favour of middle-year students being allowed phones during breaks. 

One says “At this age the children are usually old enough to be responsibilities, if they’re mature enough they should be allowed phones during breaks.” 

A graph of survey responses

How should schools regulate cell phone use by students? Grades K-4:

An even higher percentage of people that filled out the survey believed elementary school students should not use cell phones at school. 92.5 per cent said no phone use should be allowed during the school day, while 7.8 per cent said they believe phone use should be allowed during breaks and, once again, only two people said they believe phone use should be unregulated in elementary schools. 

The vast majority of the comments submitted backed this up with many people going a step further, noting they don’t believe elementary school students should own cell phones at all. 

For example, one responded saying “I can't believe that any parent would even give a Kindergartener to a grade 4 student a phone in the first place. That is so disturbing. No cell phones for this age category at all. There's a phone in the school office if they need to use.” 

Another added “I commend the school system for taking this initiative. Learning how to have relationships in real time is a valuable part of a life education.” 

However, one person did push for a measured approach, noting “Consideration is needed for kids with special circumstances or with medical situations at home.” 

A graph of survey responses

Whatever the case may be, this survey showed that people in the Southeast are overwhelmingly in support of the division’s decision to limit cell phone use for kindergarten to grade 8 students.