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Should You Let Your Child Take a Cell Phone to School?

Allowing your child to bring a cell phone to school does their performance and success a disservice. Dr. Meg Meeker explains why schools should be screen-free.
Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
September 28, 2016
Minute Read

Parents ask me this all the time: Is it ok to let my kid bring his cell phone to school?

No, it’s not. And here’s why:

Every time you hand your kid a cell phone 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. When your phone is in your pocket, the temptation is to look at it every 15 minutes.

When a child goes to school with a cell phone, all that child wants to do is look at their cell phone. That’s not fair to the child. At age 10, 15 or 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.

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 cell phones) 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 either. 

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 cell phones 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 cell phone patrol. That has to start with you.

Don’t let your kid take a cell phone to school!

Now you might be thinking, “But, all my friends’ kids take their cell phones 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.

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 cell phone, and you know what? They’re still alive. I think your kid is going to survive even if he doesn’t have a cell phone 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 cell phone to school.
To hear more of my thoughts on kids and cell phones, listen to my podcast “What Your Kids Want Most”.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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