We seriously need to rethink our decision to keep smartphones out of schools

Leonard Sengere Avatar
students on the phone

I just had a conversation with a mother who was in a meeting with her child’s teachers over Google Meet for a few hours last evening. Parent-teacher meetings over the air? I would have killed for this in my day, rather than having to sit next to my mother whilst my teacher revealed I was the class clown.

When this mother mentioned the meeting, I assumed it was done via Zoom till she told me it was Meet. I would have guessed WhatsApp or Teams before Meet, but seeing Meet has its users is interesting.

Ever since the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, virtual meetings have become more commonplace. It looks like we needed to be forced to use these services to see their benefit.

This mother was glad she didn’t have to fill her fuel tank up and drive for hours to her child’s boarding school. All she needed was a data bundle.

With such a low cost to actually sit with her kid’s teachers, it’s even possible to have such meetings more regularly. Allowing her and other parents to keep up with how their kids are doing, rather than getting such updates once every three months, or even once a year like it was in my day.

This is why I am worried about the deteriorating service we are getting from our mobile network operators. We don’t want people to end up concluding that virtual meetings don’t work just because their MNO gives them dial-up speeds in 2023. That could set us back.

Back to the mother I was talking about. One of the topics of discussion in the parent-teacher meeting was that of …

Smartphones in schools

This debate has been had ad nauseam in this country and I remain shocked that the ‘keep phones out of our schools’ gang seems to be winning. I get where they are coming from but I still think it’s backward thinking.

The main argument against smartphones is that kids will abuse them. They will cyberbully each other, visit adult sites, waste time playing games and socialising and will also steal each other’s devices.

Sounds exactly like what we, the adults, do with our smartphones. We bully each other, with revenge p*rn a particular scourge on society, we visit shady sites, waste time playing games and on Facebook and we also steal each other’s phones.

So, maybe we need to be taught how to actually live with our phones.

I have to admit, I once was addicted to my smartphone. I would end days with a screen on time in the double digits. That is wild, having your screen’s phone on for 10 hours a day.

Maybe if we all got a little training as teenagers we would be able to responsibly use these phones of ours. If the reality is that we will have to learn at some point, why not just add smartphone etiquette to the school curriculum?

The subtle difference in internet use

We endure the negatives that smartphones bring because of the benefits. When connected to the internet, these pocket computers are pure sorcery. All the world’s information is just a click away. It changes how one thinks.

We need the instinctual reach for Google whenever a tiny little detail is in question in their minds. My generation can debate something for minutes before someone eventually comes to their senses and exclaims, ‘let’s just Google it.’

That’s my two cents on the matter. What do you think about all this? I know some of the benefits and drawbacks have been discussed so many times. I’m surprised we seem to have settled on a ‘let’s wait a little before making a decision’ stance.

Also read:

Zim govt established computer labs at over 1100 schools in 2022, election season is wild

This local e-learning startup is aiming to replace brick & mortar schools

UNICEF Zim announces initiative to increase connectivity in local schools


What’s your take?

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  1. Mr Why

    Use guard rails: Restrict apps to age appropriate apps approved by parents, Controlled screen time, controlled messaging apps approved parents etc

    1. Leonard Sengere

      This is exactly how we should approach it. There are a lot of tools to help in managing how kids use those phones.

      1. Anon

        The parents themselves need to be taught on how these apps work, most of us adult don’t fully comprehend the technology.

        1. Leonard Sengere

          True. The parents and the teachers need that training.

  2. Kelvin Chenjera

    We need to keep phones out of schools they do more harm than good, i am a victim of poor phone management at school as so many others are, we have books for a reason, let use them and monitor the use of phones, laptops and other devices like that, stop thinking you the lit gang

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Phone management can be taught. Parental controls can also help manage use of a smartphone.
      We really cannot depend on physical books in this day and age. By the time something is printed, there are new ways of looking at that subject already brewing online.
      The harm in prohibiting phones is worse than you think it is.
      Your idea of monitoring the use of phones and laptops is the right one. Not to ban them.

    2. frank

      Even without phones there where always bad apples at schools. Don’t blame phones as if we removed the phone in your hand you will be blaming something else for your behavior

  3. Anonymous

    Anyone who advocates for smartphones in schools is clearly not a parent or is a paedo in the making🧐

    1. Leonard Sengere

      No pedo stuff here. Anyone who advocates banning phones is the same kind of parent that won’t let a child play outside for fear they might hurt themselves.

    2. Anonymous

      I have personal experience with my nieces. Smartphones are being abused by these kids. They are still immature.

    3. Joseph Farayi Goneso

      I have personal experience with my nieces. Smartphones are being abused by these kids. They are still immature.

    4. frank

      People usually think other people will use phones the way they use them. If you are a peado you would think most people are

  4. Anonymous

    Funny how grown adults are on this platform blaming the Nokia phones that they were using during xul for their failure

    1. Henry Dhliwayo

      Leaving smartphones out of school is like removing knives from the kitchen drawer. We do not live in isolation as Zimbabwe. Grade 1 children in some countries will be having these phones. In Zimbabwe a form 6 student is not allowed to touch it. Schools are lazy to teach kids to be responsible. Today, our physical libraries no longer have enough relevant books. Most of the information is now found online. Let kids be allowed to responsibly use smart phones at school.

      1. Leonard Sengere

        Love the way you put it. Like every powerful tool, the smartphone could hurt the one who wields it. However, if taught how to use it properly, the wielder can achieve greatness.
        We cannot expect kids to know how too responsibly use phones, even adults struggle with it. That’s why we have to be proactive in teaching them how to use phones properly.

    2. Leonard Sengere

      😂🤣 What did a 3310 ever do to people?

      1. Serpent Calisthenics

        …We will never know how many billions of hours and worn keypads were lost to snake

        1. Leonard Sengere

          Oh yeah. Had forgotten about snake. I don’t think my thumb will ever fully recover 😂

  5. Dee 1

    Phones are notthe issue. Education on the productive use of phones is important. Even us the grown ups no longer stick to our phones like we used to or maybe we are more aware because we read articles like this one here on Techzim.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Right you are. We have learnt not to glue ourselves to our phones as adults. This can be taught to kids.

  6. King

    Those who want can do a case study with their kids. Publish the results. I once tried it but quickly removed the kid out of the “lab.” An announced spot check will raise your BP!

    1. Anonymous

      Thank you

    2. Leonard Sengere

      Are we seriously thinking they won’t access that stuff if we take away their phones. I grew up before smartphones and mobile internet and no access to dirty stuff at home but I can tell you right now, I wasn’t starved for access at all.
      You can kick your kid out of the lab but you can’t kick the lab out of the kid.

  7. Czar

    Kids need phones, with these CALAs and stuff which needs research on the internet. Moreover smartphones now have PARENTIAL CONTROL apps a parent is able to monitor and control what his/her child does with the phone.

    1. Joseph Farayi Goneso

      These kids never research anything about the so called CALA. Let’s be realistic parents and guardians are the ones doing the calas on behalf of kids so research is for the adults not kids

      1. Leonard Sengere

        🤣🤣 That’s sad but true. A good number of parents are doing that research.

      2. Jaison Ndlovu

        That’s because the kids do not have the mode for reseach

  8. let them eat ipads

    I guess the most ideal situation is to have managed institutional devices that are distributed to the students. that way kids access what they need and are fenced off from what they don’t (heading off the Minor Attracted Persons and other minefields). The devices can be uniformly configured giving each kid an equal leg up without the stigma that can come from kids without means comparing themselves to kids with more. Of course this is a resource heavy direction requiring dedicated IT Departments, infrastructure and a plethora of devices that will require educational resources and software licensing.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Love how you’re polite, calling ‘pedos’ minor attracted persons. As to your idea, in a perfect world that would be the perfect solution. The stigma of having inferior devices or even no device at all is huge for teenagers. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to make sure every kid has one and so some will indeed have to suffer that stigma.
      On those devices we do have a few parental controls to try and make it hard for them to encounter MAPs and other dangerous stuff. It won’t be perfect but it’s better than nothing.

  9. Brice lee

    Akomana ko garikai na valentine varipi vakangoenda pasina good bye

  10. Inspector DUZ – V1

    Cellphones at school is not a good idea. Children should make use of resources at the school. The rules keeps uniformity amongst all students and not disturb learning. How will teachers control the kids with cellphones with the state of most of our schools. We still have not dealt with the effects that came when corporal punishment was removes from schools & its a long way to go.

    1. Leonard Sengere

      Cellphones are a good idea, why should Zim kids be left behind when kids the world over have access to all kinds of knowledge at any given time. Cellphones are now an inescapable part of life and we can’t intentionally deprive our kids because we are afraid they’ll access dirty stuff. We should instead invest in understanding how we can limit access to improper sites, monitor their usage and get devices in the hands of those who can’t afford it.

  11. Sylvester M

    As a follow-up to this article can you share on responsible use of phones, parental controls, CALAs and institution managed devices so parents, children and schools can get further insight on this.

  12. Jaison Ndlovu

    Children needs teaching, that’s all. The more you forbid them, the more they are keen to try it anyway.

  13. Jake

    We need to keep phones out of schools to save our kids

  14. LemmeSee

    Promoting the World Economic Forum agenda where Machines & AI govern us. Mark’s Metaverse virtual reality and Bill Gates Lockdown scenario where people work from home confined to their gadgets. Cellphones should not be allowed at school period. Kids are easily distracted. Even if you put security measures they will always find a backdoor.

  15. Tina

    We can’t really trust kids with phone at school, off which adults are having hard time to controlling themselves with. Kids will always be kids even if you put security measures they will always find the other way around and spend a lot of time on those adults sites and playing games. Phones do more harm than good to our kidz

  16. best watch

    We can’t really trust kids with phone at school, off which adults are having hard time to controlling themselves with. Kids will always be kids even if you put security measures they will always find the other way around and spend a lot of time on those adults sites and playing games. Phones do more harm than good to our kidz