Why Children Should Not Take Cellphones to School

'All my kids went through school without one, and they're still alive'

Parents ask me this all the time: “Is it OK to let my kid bring his cellphone to school?”

No, it’s not. And here’s why.

Every time you hand your kid a cellphone to take to school, you are handing him a distraction. Think about whenever you have your phone on you. What are you doing with it? Checking it. Refreshing your email. Looking at your social media feeds.

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When your phone is in your pocket, the temptation is to look at it every 15 minutes.

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When children go to school with a cellphone, all they want to do is look at their cellphone. That’s not fair for the child.

At age 10, 15, or even 18, kids are cognitively immature. They are not able to reason in an abstract fashion. In other words — they have difficulty believing that if they fail in school this year, they will have limited options later in life. And they have difficulty disciplining their minds to attend to matters at hand.

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The best way for you to help is to do the adult thinking for your children and make a path to success as clear as possible. This means limit things (like cellphones) on the path that sabotage their efforts to succeed. Letting your kid bring a phone to school isn’t fair to them, and isn’t fair to the teacher.

I was talking to a kid I know the other day who’s in the sixth grade. She told me that it’s hard for her to concentrate at school because all of her classmates are looking at their cellphones all the time. I asked if she had told her teacher this.

“I have,” she said, “but the teacher has just really given up.”

Parents: Teachers cannot be the cellphone patrol. That has to start with you. Don’t let your kid take a cellphone to school!

Now you might be thinking, “But all my friends’ kids take their cellphones to school.” Let me ask you this: Do you want to parent your kids, or do you want to parent your friends’ kids? Isn’t it hard enough parenting your own? You parent your way.

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Another excuse I often hear on this subject is, “What if my son or daughter needs me?”

I can speak from experience here. All my kids went through high school without a cellphone, and you know what? They’re still alive. I think your kid is going to survive — even if he doesn’t have a cellphone at school.

This is a tough subject, especially in light of today’s phone-obsessed culture, but it comes down to this: Do you want a focused kid, or do you want a distracted kid?

If you want a focused kid, don’t let him bring his cellphone to school.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. She is the author of the online course, “The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids,” which is part of The Strong Parent Project.

meet the author

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the book “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need” (Regnery Publishing), along with a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

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