Text Messages in Class Saving Lives

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

Text Messages in Class Saving Lives

cell phone use.jpgAt first thought, the idea of cell phones in class seems like a bad idea. I mean how realistic is it that a teen would rather listen to why the War of 1812 started over playing a rousing game of Hanging with Friends (a game that takes an unconventional approach to hangman) with his friend on his trusty iPhone?

And in addition to making games accessible during instruction, cell phone use in class has been in the hot seat for lending a hand to cheating and fostering distractions.

However, there is one fact about phones in class that I challenge anyone to try to refute; they can prove extraordinarily useful in the event of emergencies.

When I was at Syracuse University we had an opt-in system in which students could opt to receive text messages from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) about any pending dangers in the area. I can vividly recall being a senior at Cuse, sitting in a philosophy class like any other day, when suddenly everyone’s phone started vibrating as the class received a text message from DPS letting us know that there was an escaped convict loose in the campus area and that we all should stay put until the situation was analyzed. Although it was later determined that the university was never really in harm’s way, other situations are not so easily dismissed.

For example, during the Virginia Tech massacre, which took place on the campus of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 2007, officials at the college used email to notify students and the community that there was a shooter on campus. Unfortunately, the warning email was not sent until more than two hours after the first attack and the effort was a bit futile in that, at the time, few college students carried e-mail receiving devices with them around campus.

Incidents like these justify the need for cell phones in class, particularly at the college and high school level where threats become even more feasible.

Many major universities and colleges are already catching on to the benefit cell phones can provide. One school that decided to implement text messaging for campus communications was the University of Texas, Austin. The school has recently teamed with Mobile Campus in order to use text messaging to facilitate speedier communication between administration and students/faculty. 

The bottom line is that for every kid that has to be reprimanded for using his smartphone to play a game during class, there is a kid whose life is saved because he received a text from the school that there was a shooter in the hallway.

It’s tough to determine whether cell phones should be allowed in class and one could make the case how would students even know that had received an emergency notification if they are told to keep their phones in their backpacks? But if even one kid is able to learn that he is in danger because he brought his cell phone to class, then I think that’s an action worth allowing.

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1 Comment

I do not know what is better for the teens, to use or not to use cell phones in class, but maybe the best decision will be if they are allowed to use them , but only for emergency cases...

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