How useful is general education in schools

Education: Cell phones in schools: prohibit or use them sensibly?

As early as the 5th grade, students pack their smartphone in their satchel as naturally as their lunch break and drinking bottle. According to a survey by the industry association Bitkom, 92 percent of 14 to 19 year olds have their cell phones with them at school. They listen to music and chat, but also research solutions or take photos of blackboard pictures. Officially, however, 66 percent of young people are prohibited from using cell phones in class. 18 percent even report a general ban on cell phones in their school.

Nevertheless: In the long term, the smartphone cannot be banned from school corridors, experts agree on that. At the Didacta education fair (February 24th to 28th) in Hanover, numerous exhibitors will demonstrate the advantages that new media can have for teaching and school organization.

According to the company heinekingmedia, the digital bulletin board, for example, is already hanging in around 6,500 schools, and the associated app has been downloaded around 700,000 times. "In this way, the pupils can view the substitution plan on their smartphone in the morning and do not find out in school that the first lesson is canceled," says managing director Andreas Noack.

The school book publishers have long since developed apps for the virtual classroom. The digital content could expand the classroom and save boys and girls from lugging around some of their books. The prerequisite, however, is that the corresponding devices are available and that they can also be used by the educators.

Paper-free lessons

The Cologne teacher André Spang coordinates the tablet project at his school and puts drafts for paper-free lessons online. He sees his colleagues alone in using new media and calls for better basic equipment in schools. "The topic of smartphones should be included in the classroom without being excited. The new media are everywhere in everyday life, only schools are excluded," criticizes Spang.

This disproportion makes a lot of young people angry. The State School Council of Saxony, for example, gives under the heading "General ban on cell phones in schools ?! Not with us!" Argumentation aids. The students of the Theodor Storm School in Husum on the North Sea have achieved a relaxation of the "media usage regulation" with protests that lasted for months. "A ban is superfluous. One should rather protect against cyberbullying and the like through prevention and learn how to deal with new media," says school spokesman Jan Perner.

The cell phone helps with cheating, violent videos are watched together in the schoolyard, nude photos of schoolgirls are in circulation: Often only the negative aspects make the headlines. "Children must be informed and educated about the right to their own picture, the confidentiality of the word and copyright issues. Many do not know when they come into a criminal area," says Birgit Kimmel, educational director of the EU initiative Klicksafe. Not all parents are able to advise their children.

The expert therefore sees schools as responsible for establishing prevention projects. This works particularly well when young people, as media scouts, advise their peers and younger ones, says Kimmel: "The older people are then the contact person for the use of cell phones, but also for problems such as bullying or sexting." (dpa)

Didacta 2015

EU initiative Klicksafe