Schools nationwide enact cell phone bans to limit classroom distractions

by Seth Udinski

Seth Udinski, FISM News


Over the weekend, Just the News released a report highlighting a surge nationwide in public schools looking to limit or even ban the use of cell phones in classrooms.

In an age when public schools have drawn ire from many who feel the schools are betraying their original purpose of fostering learning, this is an encouraging report for parents who simply desire to give their children a quality education.

On October 20, the city of Philadelphia allocated $5 million to schools for the purpose of providing lockable phone cases for classrooms, where students leave their phone in the case upon entry and retrieve it when class is dismissed.

The Philadelphia school district said,

With a cell phone free environment, schools can increase engagement in the classroom. Furthermore, the absence of cell phones during the day can help lead to less incidents of cyber bullying, reducing the number of students leaving the building and returning illegally by texting their friends, and a reduction in class cuts.

Similarly, the Hopewell, Virginia school district began using phone cases like this to deter students from the distraction of technology during school hours.

Byron David, a Hopewell district executive said,

Students continue to have their phones on them and be able to use them before and after school for emergencies or any other personal reasons as they have access. They maintain their property and are not restricted from possession during the day, but are limited in that they cannot access phones while instruction and testing are the focus.

Limits and bans such as these have spread across the country.

Many schools have also answered the main objection from parents and students, which centers around student safety in case of an emergency. Davis further commented on the systems in place in Hopewell, saying,

Emergency protocols and communication methods already exist in the event there is a crisis on campus, however, on a case-by-case basis, school administration has the ability to unlock pouches and provide students access to their phones as appropriate.

Author’s Biblical Analysis:

There is much for Christians to learn from this report. Certainly, we see the clear warning to consider the potential dangers that cell phones can pose to young children. We also see an encouraging showing from the public school system in America that has, at least in this way, enacted rules for the protection and well-being of the children in attendance.

But above these things, there is a sober reminder for all parents who want their children to know God, and it is this – Your main goal as a parent is to train your children up to love and serve God.

Your job as a parent is not to be your child’s best friend, or for your child to like you and think you are cool, or even for your child to become a well-adjusted, kind, social, and respectful contributor to society.

Sadly, public schools often contradict, and sometimes even stand in the way, of Christian parents raising their children to seek truth and fear the Lord. In this instance, however, the public schools got it right. These leaders understand that while it may make their students frustrated to not have access to their phones, a cell phone ban in class is what is best for them, and therefore it is what is right.

In Deuteronomy 11, the Lord reveals the weightiness of gospel-parenting. It is our responsibility, ultimately, to give our children every opportunity to know and love God, to surround them with the gospel and to train them to love the things of God and hate the things that grieve His heart.

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.  – Deuteronomy 11:18-21

If we do this, our efforts will be well-pleasing to God!

It should be noted also — it is not your job to save your children from their sins. As a parent, I grieve over and pray fervently against the possibility that my children, whom I would die for and love unconditionally, would reject the lordship of Jesus Christ. All I desire is for my children to know, love, and serve God all the days of their lives.

But regeneration is not up to me. I cannot save my own sinful soul, let alone the soul of another! Salvation is of the Lord, and it is entirely an act of God’s amazing grace that any one of us would be saved.

So what can a parent do? We can pray for the salvation of our little ones. We can pray that God, who is delighted to redeem any sinner who comes to Him in repentance, would rescue our children from the penalty of their sin, and, only by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, count them as righteous.

We can also offer our children every opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. We can pray with them and for them. We can read the Bible with them and teach them the things of God. We can take them to church and surround them with other believers who will also encourage them to love God. We can teach them obedience, especially to the commands of God. We can model in our own lives the way that a believer must live for Christ in every way.

Additionally, we can set limitations for our children — just like these schools are now doing — so that they are not so distracted by the world that it drowns out the still small voice of their Savior calling to them.

It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to get our children (or grandchildren) every new gadget, toy, and experience to see the rush of joy come across their faces. But our desire must first be to get them to the feet of Jesus, not to give them worldly pleasures. That doesn’t mean that we must return to archaic simplicity, but like everything else in life, we must seek the Lord first and ask his direction in how to best lead our children – including when to say no.

Do these things for your children, friends, and God, who is your loving Father and is always pleased with the obedience of His children, will remember it.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.  – Proverbs 22:6