Cellphone Restriction in Classrooms to Take Effect this Year

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

August 29th, 2019



The question that comes to mind is – what took so long?

Ontario’s Minister of Education announced plans to move forward with restricting the use of cellphones and other personal mobile devices in classrooms beginning November 4, 2019.

student on cell phoneThe restriction applies to instructional time at school, however, exceptions will be made if cellphones are required for health and medical purposes, to support special education needs, or for educational purposes as directed by an educator.

During the consultation on education reform in fall 2018, 97 per cent of parents, students and teachers who participated said that cellphone use should be restricted in some way.

In response to this feedback, the Provincial Code of Conduct has been updated to include this restriction. It sets clear standards of behaviour and requires that all school boards ensure their own codes of conduct are up to date and consistent with requirements.

“When in class, students should be focused on their studies, not their social media,” said Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education. “That’s why we are restricting cellphones and other personal mobile devices in the classroom, while making sure technology is available to help students achieve success in the digital economy and modern workforce.”


To ensure that parents and guardians are clear on the new guidelines, including the exceptions, the following resources are available:

• Parents’ Guide to the Provincial Code of Conduct

• Cellphones and Other Personal Mobile Devices in Schools – Questions and Answers for Parents and Guardians.

In our travels as journalists we have, on far too many occasions, watched students chit chat with each other during a classroom presentation.

There are occasions when a cell phone is a useful tool and should be permitted in a classroom.

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4 comments to Cellphone Restriction in Classrooms to Take Effect this Year

  • Tom Muir

    This is long, long overdue. It’s been shown to be an addiction that’s triggering the dopamine reward pathways used by cocaine among other things. It also rewires the brain.

    I wrote the following comment here in the Gazette in April 2018.

    Of course you should unplug the kids. Seems so obvious, especially the addiction and sometimes spoiled withdrawal rage at the thought of limits, that is so apparent sometimes.

    What science and study we have indicates the devices, among many other things, reinforce the same dopamine reward pathway acted on by cocaine. At the least, this is a partial physiological explanation for some of the symptoms seen.

    The characterization of chronic, extended-time users, as cell phone zombies, walking mindlessly everywhere and anywhere, eyes glued to their screens, is another clue.

    Evidence suggests chronic and long-time use down-regulates, or under- emphasizes, use of the left brain hemisphere, the center of logical, analytical, and mathematical thinking, in favor of the imaginal, visual, artsy, right hemisphere side.

    This is a possible explanation for the observed, and otherwise unexplained, falling grades in mathematics on Ontario schools, and elsewhere.

    But don’t tell anyone – those in charge don’t seem to have this in mind or don’t want to acknowledge and/or talk about it.

    It seems clear that such a powerful and possessing technology, permissively available to children, with immature and developing brains, is going to have unintended consequences, probably with many unknown and even un-imagined consequences.

  • Stephen White

    Good for Stephen Lecce, the Minister of Education. This is long overdue.

    I teach part-time at Sheridan and McMaster, and even at the post-secondary level the amount of time students spend texting on their cellphones is ridiculous. At the start of every term I have to remind them that using their cellphone in class is disrespectful to me as their instructor as well as their fellow classmates. Unfortunately, it is a message I have to constantly repeat and layer. Distracted learning does not allow students to concentrate, and it detracts from their ability to engage in positive verbal discussions with others. It also impedes retention.

    Technology may be ubiquitious, but like anything it has to be relegated to a time and place that is appropriate and proportionate to the surrounding circumstances.

  • Phillip Wooster

    Here’s the bottom line–what are you saying about yourself as a teacher and the importance of the lesson you are teaching if you permit students to tune you out while on their cell phones?

  • Penny Hersh

    I don’t know how past generations managed without cellphones? Oh yes, we communicated by speaking to each other. If we had a medical problem we went to the office and asked the secretary to call our parent.

    What is it with some parents today that they feel they have to be in constant communication with their child? Children need to learn to solve problems on their own, not always expect others to do this for them. In the real world there is no parent or nanny to take care of them, although some parents continue to do this long after they should be.

    Universities have to deal with some parents who call on their children’s behalf to complain about professors, marks that their children have received, asking for more time to hand in their children’s assignments. “Helicopter” parents is the term used.

    What makes some parents feel that they need to post on Instagram everything they do with their child, or what their child is eating? Personally I would not want any information about my child on the internet. Not everyone has good intentions.

    Cellphones should be totally banned during school hours. Why has it taken so long for schools to do this and why wait until November 4th.? it should start in September when school starts.