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When did a phone stop being just a phone?

A phone is not a phone. It’s a computer in disguise. Forget desktop, or laptop or tablet. Your phone is a computer that is little more than finger-sized. And students need to be using them more often in the classroom.

It’s been said that the power of the computers in the first spacecraft that landed on the moon were less than that of a normal household washing machine. What you have in the palm of your hand is far more powerful than that!

And it wasn’t all that long ago – maybe only ten years or so – that a mobile phone was great for making phone calls and sending text messages. That’s all it did. Some phones might have had simple games like Snake or Tetris or something similar. No internet, no apps, no Facebook, no YouTube, no mp3 player.

But now it’s almost impossible to buy a mobile phone without any of these functions. And it’s causing a bit of a headache both inside and outside the classroom.

What’s wrong with having all that power at your fingertips? Some teachers and parents say that it’s a distraction, that students can too easily look up answers online, or that there’s too much jealousy caused by wanting to have the latest and best phone. Phones are expensive and could be a target for thieves. Even accidentally breaking one is an expensive problem.

It’s important that students and teachers move with the times – school children are not still using chalk and blackboards, or dipping their pens in ink every time they have to write a sentence. It’s the same with phones and iPads and devices – computers are getting smaller, faster and cheaper all the time. They are an important educational tool.

Critics say that having all this information at your fingertips is confusing – and that it doesn’t help students focus in the classroom – and students might cheat. Instead of using phones for sharing work ideas or looking things up, students will be social-networking, playing music or browsing the internet.

Interestingly, though, some people are beginning to think that it’s far too complicated having all that information on a phone, and that they want their lives to be more simple. These people think going back to old technology is cool. And so now, on internet selling sites like TradeMe or eBay, the ‘old-style’ phones are selling for huge sums of money. Retro is cool! Retro is also sensible.

It makes sense – to use a phone just to make a phone call or send a text. It’s worth thinking about…

Article written by Ben Egerton

This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:

Critical Thinking Challenges:

1. Why do students need access to mobile phones in the classroom?

2. Are mobile phones too complicated? What are the advantages/disadvantages of cramming so much technology into a mobile phone?

3. How have the developments in mobile phone technology directly benefited students in classrooms?

Practical Tasks:

1. Go one whole day (24 hours) without using your phone. Could you do it? If not, why not? What are the essential things that you would need your phone for?

2. Research the history of the mobile phone – from when it was first invented to today’s smart phones. What would you consider to be the key stages of its development? Ask your family and friends, or look in op shops, or for pictures online for some of the older styles of mobile phone. What do you think of them?

3. Old-style mobile phones are making a bit of a comeback. What other ‘old technology’ would you like to see? Ask parents, family and friends about what they enjoyed using five, ten, twenty years ago and that they’d like to see again.





29 Responses

  1. I think that phones are a awesome piece of technology, but people are becoming too obsessed with them. I mean, people are dying because they are tacking crazy selfies, not paying attention, and even walking off stuff without realising it. If this word is exposed to too much technology, our human race could be in danger.

  2. Phones are like the worst thing ever! Never ever by a phone otherwise you won’t be happy that you did

  3. To be honest i don’t get why they are making the phones bigger. They came up with making the phone so that it can fit into your pockets but they are making the new phones as big as ipads.

  4. I agree with the author too because right now younger kids are getting phones- iphones and using them just for games and stuff like Instagram. Also more and more people under 13 are getting Instagram. When my sister first got a phone in intermediate, she got a phone that was non touch screen and needed to get one because she had to contact my mother for things like getting to and from school. My point is that we should only get phones- even the non touch screen ones if we have to urgently contact our parents for getting to and from school.

  5. I think phones are amazing !! But I do agree that they are very expensive to fix and really easy to break . At our school lots of kids are already losing phones and competing about who has the best phone . One of my friends are completely obsessed by her phone and can not put it down . So I agree with Carly , phones could be dangerous !!

  6. I agree with Amy and Carly. We’re jus getting really obsessed with phones. I mean, phones are actually pretty cool, but they’re crazy expensive. You buy this really cool new phone, 3 months later out comes out a “cooler” one and you desperately want to buy it. Definitely agree with Amy and Carly!

  7. i think that phones are great for homework or trying to find an answer for something but i know from experience that if you are on your phone for too long then your head starts to hurt and then you start to get major head aches,that is the case with all types of phones,and people don,t even realise how much radiation comes out of phones,as a result people are putting there phones really close to there head,leg,arms. probably 100% of all people put there phones in there pocket,and keep them there all day.imagine what is happening with the radiation to your upper leg.i think that you should have a limit on how much time you are on your phone,and if you are at home and not using your phone it should be on a table of bench or something like that.

  8. i like phones but i think it is a right choice and i think that too many people are playing too much phone e.g. pokemon go

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