Cell Phones and ChaCha


In the last several months, we have received more calls and emails from school administrators about issue related to cell phones than probably anything else.  The concerns about cell phones are varied.  For example, students are texting on them all hours of the school day, cell phones can be used to take pictures or video of students or staff members (in the classroom or even places where privacy is expected such as in a locker room or bathroom), and they can be used to cheat on exams.  In addition, one principal told us that her school had a problem with parents actually calling their children during the school day and expecting a response even when they knew the student was in class.

This is a complicated issue.  First of all, many parents want their kids to have a cell phone so that they can be contacted for routine or emergency purposes.  Schools that attempt to ban cell phones from classrooms have a difficult time enforcing the policy, short of searching students as they pass through the doors.  At the very least, schools need to have a conversation about this and come up with a clear policy that outlines where and when students are allowed to use/possess cell phones – and specifies the consequences for violations of the policy.

On a related note, a friend recently made me aware of ChaCha (www.chacha.com), a cell phone service that allows anyone to send a text message to ChaCha (242242) with a question and they will receive the answer in text message.  And the service is free.  Apparently, ChaCha receives about 300,000 questions a day and utilizes around 25,000 people to research and respond to the questions.  Employees of ChaCha earn between 10-20 cents for basically Googling the question, finding the answer, and texting it back to the sender. They boast a 93% accuracy rate and state that questions are answered within three minutes.  So imagine a student texting ChaCha to ask: What is the capital of Montana?  Clear implications for schools.


  1. In the last two months I discovered that our young people now see texting as an interest/hobby. I created a Peer Educator Program called PLUS (www.plusprogram.org). This program takes me around to schools working with young people preparing them to take on the critical issues that become reality in our schools. In an activity we do the students are to write down their top three interests they enjoy doing. In a nutshell, “what are their hobbies?” They then work about the room sharing their interests with others finding people who share the same interests, thus making connections to their similarities. What I discovered for the first time, in multiple trainings at different schools, is that “Texting” was listed as an interest on over half of the student’s paper!

    So with this in mind, we need to see the cell phones like a skateboard. You can use the skateboard to come to and from school, but you surely are not skating in the quad at lunchtime. If a kid does break out their skateboard and tries to grind a rail at lunch, they will be reprimanded. In the same light, if a student breaks out a phone in class or at lunch, they will be reprimanded.

    So what do we need to do? Establish a policy that cell phones need to be put away when on campus. Like skateboards, they are not banned, they simply need to be put away when they enter campus. Communicate this policy with parents, students, and staff. If a student needs to make a call via their cell phone to a parent, they are to go to the office and make this call. If a teacher sees a phone out during class and the student is using it, the teacher takes it. If mom calls, teacher answers it and reprimands mom! (wouldn’t that be great?)

    Although the cell phone is a “hobby” right now in their lives, it is a powerful tool that we as educators need to teach our students to be responsible with. It is the informal education that happens in the formal setting. Like a dress code policy that sets the standard for the school day, a cell phone policy needs to be implemented to hold our students accountable.

    As for kids cheating, kids have been cheating for years. Teachers simply need to be made aware that kids are using the cell phone now to cheat. We need to educate ourselves on this and look for it during test time. Don't let the kid go to the bathroom during a test! Our new teachers are tech savvy and know what to look for, our "veteran" teachers need to be taught what to look for. Awareness is the key…..

  2. It is impossible to monitor cell phone texting during a test – they can do in with the phone in their pocket. To avoid cheating during tests, have all students place their phones on the desk in plain site, turned off. Also to avoid texting from the bathroom, have each student leave their phone on the teacher's desk while they go to the bathroom. If a phone goes off during class, the teacher takes it to the dean's office to be picked up by a parent at the end of the school day. As with any school rules, they only work if every teacher in the building enforces them. Teachers need to be just as creative about enforcing the rules as the students are about breaking the rules. Students need to learn to the proper use of cell phones – this is a life skill.

  3. I think a school ban on cell phones is not…an accurate rebuttal. One of my favorite hobbies is shooting the breeze with my friends, is that something that should be also taken away at school, socializing? Texting is like talking to our younger generations. Yes, cell phones should not be abused and used to cheat on an exam, take pictures of inappropriate scenarios, etc. I once had a teacher that would brag about be very strict on cheat. He would say "I know all the tricks in the book," and go on and on about it. Students would cheat just to see what was possible. Younger generations are adopting indecent morals and following a "if you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying" approach. A cell phone is simply a tool used, and cannot be compared to a skate board, or a football and so on. A cell phone is a tool for socialization, which is a more important life skill than high school geometry comparatively speaking. Teachers should adapt, and keep up with technology to enforce rules. If they can’t, then why don’t schools purchase electronic devises that scramble singles to prohibite cell phone usage instead of complain about it?

  4. I was recently talking to a teacher in Texas about how some school districts confiscate student cell phones if they are used (or heard) during school hours, and then require $15 or $25 (depending on the district) to be paid to the school bookkeeper before the phone is returned. Oh, and the phone will *not* be returned to a student – the parent has to come by and pick it up (during school hours, of course – which inconveniences parents who are not available during the work day). All of this is spelled out in the policy manual and a document that parents and youth have to sign at the beginning of the school year. Thoughts? The intent of the cost to the parent's pocketbook is to underscore the seriousness of the offense so it won't happen again….

  5. Wow. A Cell Phone Fine??? I like it. No different than parking tickets a student might receive for not having a parking pass in his or her car in the student parking lot. This is a great example of how policy can make an impact on the use of technology on a campus. If everyone is on board I don't see what is wrong with it. Use the money generated to go towards violence prevention programs.

    School districts need to establish safety committees which consist of parents, community, law enforcement, school staff and students. Use these committees to establish and push forward policy like this. These safety committees can address anything from bullying and harassment, to gangs and violence. They take the lead on recommending policy, programs and trainings to address these critical issues.

  6. Wow is right. Fining students because it seems teachers have not caught up with new tech? Making parents pick up the phone is one thing…laying out fines is different- and sad. It is sad that schools are having to fine students instead of using discipline. Where I come from a “Saturday school” secession took care of most recidivating issues.

  7. We have a policy here in our school that students who bring their cellphones should surrender before they step in inside their classrooms.Majority of students are able to follow the rules as mandated by the institution's student handbook. It is prohibited not to bring cellular phones or other costly electronic

    gadgets for the reason that it might be the cause of some serious problems.Bringing cellular phones and other gadgets is considered as a minor offense,yet it can lead to a major offense if repeatedly committing the same offense over and over again.

    Though there is no corresponding fine when commiting such offense hereon still the guidance office has a protocol of imposing a probationary contract if a student violated the rule.

    Nowadays the prevalence of cyberbullying here in the Philippines is in progression, highschool students use the internet via chatrooms and group conference to gossip and spread rumors.Recenlty we discovered that a certain student who is in the state of mild depression due to some problems pertaining to relationships and attachment to another student.She'd use her cellular phone to send group message via text,just to inform everyone about her condition with out thinking the serious damage the might occur.

    It is indeed very timely for me to spearheaded the first bullying campaign series here in our school.For the

    past few weeks I've been researching and educating students about the negative effects of bullying and harassment in our school.This site is really a great help for me!

  8. My son is a Type I diabetic and if the school considers leaving him without a phone for one second they're going to have a serious problem from me. He's needed that phone in emergencies, one of them created by the school who instead of dealing with a medical emergency chose to drag him to the office and reprimand him even involving the campus police at one point. By the time he finally managed to call me and I was able to demand his blood sugar be checked he was well over 400 and his insulin wasn't working.

    As long as our education system is so pompous as to think it's about control and not instruction they'll continue to fail. Respect and trust is earned, even for teachers and especially from kids. It's time to stop acting like the person behind the title teacher or school administrator automatically gets respect.

  9. i would like to know if we have laws against these offenders.. and what are the proper steps that should be done..i posted a very decent message in a chat room and there were like five of them starting to attack me…calling me nasty names…i was so enraged..but i tried my best to keep my cool and thought of researching about this…i experienced these twice in MIRC..baguio and makati…

  10. Preventing Cyberbullying and cell phone usage while in the classroom isn’t the easiest thing in the world to prevent. It takes several participating parties to work together to keep cyberbullying under control. I feel that the structure of the classroom could be modified and surveilled as to be able to monitor students as they are in the classroom setting especially if computers are in use. For example, a camera (even if it is a fake) could be placed on the ceiling behind the students on the computers so that it could deter and monitor use of technology during class (e.g. cell phone use, internet access, IPods, etc). People tend to modify their behaviors when they feel they are being recorded. As for the policies and rules, students are bound to break them as people tend to break traffic rules (speeding, stop signs, etc, yea you know you’re as guilty as I am). The constant monitoring and a healthy parent-child relationship are the best ways to prevent cyberbullying.

  11. I often observe students as they walk out of class, the first thing they reach for – their cell phone. I know my parents often tell me I can’t live without technology, and it’s not far from the truth. I am constantly on my phone, checking text messages, emails, notifications, and talking when I can. When I take exams and I have to turn my phone off, I find myself disconnected from the rest of the world for a brief period of time. I know it sounds a bit crazy, but it’s true. Like many other forms of technology, cell phone usage is being abused. Since technology is constantly advancing, new features are always being added. Cameras, video recording, and facetime are all meant for good purposes but are often misused. In an article published in August 2010, a teen employee was using his cell phone to videotape women using the bathroom. Though this may seem like a rare incident, it happens more than you think. Although in this particular incident the camera was placed there on purpose, I believe devices with cameras should not be allowed in public places where privacy is expected. This includes locker rooms, restrooms, fitting rooms and the like.

    Related article link: http://www.woodtv.com/dpp/news/local/sw_mich/teen

  12. technology has advanced in a way that surprise us all like society. Its purpose is to make our lives hassle free, more fun, and a lot less time consuming when completing a task. However, we all know that this is not 100% true. Because we all have abused or taken advantage of technology, now as a result our society faces some problems with terrible consequences. In some cases, for not saying in most, the consequences are irreversible like for example when some someone’s live is lost or someone is emotional/psychological affected. A good example is the usage of phones while driving. People especially teenagers do not see the seriousness of this problem. The usage of phones while driving can cause a car accident, can cause other to get into a car accident and can make us violate traffic laws for being distracted such running a red light or not stopping by a school bus. . While driving we get easily distracted; the cell phone is our worst enemy. Today's phones are a lot more sophisticated and required a lot more attention. So when we are using phone while driving our attention is not 100% on the road and our surroundings. In my opinion I think it is ok to be on the phone if a hand free set is being used. However, I do not recommend it since the phone still requires attention, attention that you are taking off the road, and not everyone can multi-task. In addition to this, something that I do not accept at all is texting. Texting has become a great problem especially among teenagers that drive. Teenagers need to understand that texting and driving each require too much attention, so both cannot be done at the same time. I have to admit that I have done it myself and thank God I have been saved from horrible things. After experiencing these situations, one comes to realize the seriousness of these complex issues. Finding a solution for this kind of problem it is a little bit difficult because no one watches anyone 24-7. Laws can be created making illegal to text while driving, parents lose control over this matter when they are not in the car with their son/daughter; however this does not disappear the problem. We all as a united society need to come up with mechanisms that avoid issues like this from even start becoming issues.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *