Ontario Government Proposes Classroom Cellphone Ban


Sky Kapoor
Public Relations Officer
Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des élèves du secondaire au Canada


Ontario Government Proposes Classroom Cellphone Ban

TORONTO, ONTARIO, MARCH 15, 2019 — On Tuesday, the Ontario government proposed to ban cellphones from classrooms during instructional time. “Ontario's students need to be able to focus on their learning — not their cellphones,” said Education Minister Lisa Thompson. The ban will affect all public schools in the province effective September 2019.

The Ontario government conducted public consultations last year and found that 97 per cent of respondents supported some form of a cellphone ban. Indeed, cellphone use during instructional time can be detrimental to students’ learning. However, cellphones can be useful tools to assist students and teachers as well. Apps such as Google Classroom, PearDeck, and Kahoot! are frequently used in the classroom and some schools have made the switch from physical agendas to virtual ones that can be accessed via students’ smartphones.

Many teachers ban cellphone use during instructional time already, and thus the question remains if such a ban is entirely necessary. Schools and teachers can create their own policies involving cellphone use, which is what they have done up until now. The governments of Alberta and British Columbia have both indicated that their provinces would not implement a cellphone ban, and the Toronto District School Board reversed its cellphone ban in 2011, stating that to curb technology use would be to place limits on educational opportunities as well. The TDSB also noted that it was near impossible to enforce such a ban.

It is uncertain how the Ontario government plans on enforcing a province-wide cellphone ban or how effective such a ban might be. In addition, this decision was made based on the feedback received from the government’s “For the Parents” consultation. This consultation seemed to be primarily focused on the opinions of parents. Therefore, it is entirely possible that the results were not representative of the perspectives of all stakeholders in the education system. This decision did not take students’ opinions into account once again and continues to leave students wondering if they are being considered a priority by the government.

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