More Canadian schools move to incorporate, not ban, cellphones

Researchers and educators agree that cellphones have become fixtures in Canadian classrooms, but opinion remains divided on how best to address their presence.

All agree that the presence of smartphones can be problematic if students are allowed to devote more attention to their screens than their studies.

One research paper suggests the majority of schools are still treating cellphones as a scourge and banning the devices outright both in and out of class.

But that study and a growing number of boards say they've had more success once deciding to stop fighting the technological tide and find ways to incorporate cellphones into schools.

Canada's largest school board reversed a four-year ban on cellphones and now lets teachers dictate what works best for their classrooms, while a board in Quebec has gone so far as to distribute tablets to all students in Grade 5 and up while maintaining a permissive smartphone policy.

Researchers say these approaches work best, but add it's essential to have guidelines in place around the use of technology.