The Great Edtech Debate: Banning Cellphones AND Using Social Media to Promote Social Justice Issues

Debate Topic 1: Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

This debate was unique because there were three different arguments. One side argued for cell phones to always be banned, one side was for cell phones to be banned in K-8, and the final side was to never have cell phones banned. 

All sides brought good arguments. Arguments for banning cellphones in all classrooms included that there would be less of a distraction giving students the opportunity to engage more in learning, there would be a decrease in cyberbullying throughout the school day, and it would allow students to create a better connection with each other in a face to face situation. 

Arguments for banning cellphones in K-8 classrooms include similar arguments to banning cell phones in all grades with the addition that there will be a greater number of students in elementary school who do not have their own device. This can create a lot of pressure and stress on students as they may stand out amongst their peers if they need to use technology provided by the school in order to participate in classroom activities. Finally, never banning cell phones argued that cell phones can be a great tool within the classroom and help create a more positive classroom environment. Another key point was that cell phones can provide easy access to information as well as a digital platform to incorporate into lessons or supplement learning. 

Initially I was on the side of never banning cellphones in classrooms. In my internship I allowed students to use cell phones for a variety of different reasons such as quick formative assessment or for them to listen to music so that they could be more focused on their school work. But as the debate progressed I saw some benefit in banning them in K-8 classrooms. Elementary school is an important time for students to learning how to interact with others and how to self-regulate in different situations and environments. During the debate it was mentioned that a school had done this but with a more gradual approach beginning with the younger grades and progressing to higher grades as this became accepted and supported by both staff and administration. This does not mean that technology can’t be used, but it can create a more inclusive environment if everyone uses a school computer and screen time usage can be more closely monitored. This was an idea that I liked and ending up switching my voted to banning cell phones in K-8 classrooms!

Debate Topic 2:  Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression.

This is a bit of a touchy subject and I initially disagreed with this statement because I personally am not an active user of any social media platform. Yes, I do have an account on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but I rarely post. However, as the debate progressed I can see different situations where it would be important for educators to use social media to promote social justice and fight oppression. 

The agree side argued that social media and instant access to information can help teachers prepare students to understand and accept people from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds as well as those experiencing disability. By using social media as a platform to advocate for different social justice issues it also gives students the opportunity to see that you are a person they can trust and they may feel safer in your classroom especially if you are advocating for an issue that they connect with on a personal level.

While the disagree side argued that the use of a social media platform to promote social justice issues can quickly become performative and an individual may think that is all they need to do and still avoid having conversations and educating students in their classrooms. 

After the debate I am still unsure of where I stand. I think that if I was a more active user of social media I would be more likely to feel responsible to promote social justice issues on my social media. Now I am not saying that I will not do my part to discuss and have conversations about social justice issues with my students, I definitely will, I just currently rarely post on social media so I do not see that as the best outlet for me to help educate others. 

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