In just a couple of decades, smartphones have become an integral part of modern life, including in education (Steve Kidd photo/Black Press)

In just a couple of decades, smartphones have become an integral part of modern life, including in education (Steve Kidd photo/Black Press)

Smartphone protests doomed

Kidding around with Steve Kidd

When I started writing this column, it came off as way too serious. Not a bad thing in itself, but I like taking a lighter approach, even to serious issues.

So, it’s back to the drawing board, and trying to bring a little humour to the idea that groups of people, mostly school boards in the U.S., are looking at banning smartphones from classrooms and even schools.

When you’re a journalist, you hear lots of odd or even absurd stories. Banning smartphones from any place in society is one of those. Here’s some advice for those backing this idea: Give up. It’s too late. What you’re attempting is like trying to put spilled salt back in the shaker, one grain at a time.

It’s not the first time the subject has come up. Since smartphones began their meteoric rise to an all-consuming presence, various well-intended groups have done their best to have their use limited, or outright banned, on school properties.

There are lots of reasons for opposing the level of smartphone use, and some of them are even good reasons, like avoiding the relentless distraction they cause. For sure, in the case of using phones while driving, that should be illegal.

But schools are a different matter. Students aren’t behind the wheel of a two-tonne vehicle in the hallways. Students are learning and smartphones, a veritable Swiss Army knife, can be a learning tool.

So rather than try to ban smartphones, which have become near ubiquitous, how about schooling kids in their proper use? After all, if these devices are going to be a part of their life, shouldn’t they be included in education?

Courses like critical thinking, learning to analyze the quality of information collected from the internet. Courses like etiquette, learning how and when to use them.

It reminds me of the fight against electronic calculators. Over the long term, calculator blockers were just as successful as smartphone opponents are going to be.


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