The children’s manifesto on smartphones – or a start on it…

Following this year’s activities, the Danish class at Sofiendalskole discussed and summarised some of the good and bad things about smartphones. Here are their thoughts:

How we live in a world of smartphones

• People can become addicted to checking their phone.
• Phones can be a problem if you have poor self-control.
• Phones can disrupt your sleep at night.
• One can get bored without one’s phone.
• Smartphones are good to have on long journeys and can provide you with entertainment.
• It is important to be able to receive calls and call if you are injured or sick.
• Younger children should have ‘light’ phones with fewer functionalities.
• For younger children, it might be good if parents lock parts of the smartphone functionalities.
• When you buy a phone, you should consider what functionalities are actually needed.
• The feature called “phone” is not used very much.
• Maybe it is necessary to propose how old you have to be before you get a proper smartphone, perhaps when the child is old enough to use social media – e.g. 13 years for Facebook and 16 for using Snap chat. However, there are probably not many people who in reality would comply with such a rule.
• Parents should teach their children that phones are a tool that can be used for special and important things, including SMS and calls. It is not necessary to learn how to download apps and search on the Internet.
• It may be necessary to supervise younger children when they use apps.
• Parents must determine when a child is ready to get a smartphone and have a talk with their kids about the use of the smartphone.
• How to use a smartphone can be a part of necessary parenting skills.

What we should consider in using smartphones at school
• When you receive messages on your smartphone at school it can interrupt your attention for a considerable amount of time.
• It is a bad idea to take phones away from students because students will think of their phones throughout the day, and make them less concentrated. Students can also forget their phones after school.
• When school tasks are digital, they can be solved anywhere and anytime with a smartphone.
• Smartphones have many useful features such as calculator and camera. There can also be downloaded several apps that are used in teaching.
• It can take pictures of smartboards or tables if you do not have time to write notes.
• Smartphones can be like a Swiss army knife.
• Smartphones contain several sensors that can provide interesting data for learning.
• It would be a good idea to have a group of students –super users of smartphones- who could teach teachers how smartphones could be used for their teaching.

The importance of acknowledging students’ ownership

 The padlet task and the peer circle in Kata’s class, 6th grade.

In the padlet task, the students took photos and wrote texts under the title “Me and my mobile phone”. The aim was to provide the children a space to tell about their relationship with their smartphones. Before the task, there was a phase of warming up: the children were standing in two circles and talking face-to-face in pairs exchanging questions and answers. After discussing each other for two minutes, the students moved to talk with a new peer.

The instructions of the peer circle were:

  • Show your phone to your pair and tell about it: How did you get it? Are you satisfied with it? Why did you choose that type (Samsung/Iphone etc,). What technical problems have you faced with it and so on.
  • Show your applications to your pair: what are your favorite ones and why you use them? On what purposes you use your phone?
  • Are you addicted to your phone? What happens if you are not able to use your phone? Have you been without your phone? Do you find it easy? Why or why not?

In reflecting afterwards we noticed that this phase before the actual working using padlet was important. Why? The discussion flew freely and the atmosphere was lively. The kids could talk about their favorite applications. There was a boy who presented his pizza call app with great enthusiasm! The teacher joined the discussion. They had the phones as concrete items in their hands, but their discussion spread to cover their lives broadly when talking about how they use their phones. Without this phase the padlet task could have been understood by the kids just as another school task, as now the task went on with great engagement.


What did we learn? Whenever touching the subject of mobile technologies, teachers need to take into account that students have their own knowledge and in many cases much broader experiences about them than we assume.




Learning from children

A group of grade children from Sofiendalsskolen agreed on including me in a group on social media so that I could learn to use these media the way the children are using it. Snapchat and Messenger came up as the most popular among children, and we agreed that Messenger was most appropriate because it saved the posts, whereas Snapachat could only be used for instant postings that could not be saved. I wanted to learn from the children how it was like to be part of a group on social media. We agreed to call the group “My mobile my life” and post things about what they do with technology. Here are some examples from Messenger:

creating a group mood

private use of my mobile

school use on a field trip

school use on a field trip

My experience was that the children were helpful in showing and allowing me to try out being part of the type of communication they were experts in. I learned that Snapchat is a way of sending momentary impressions to keep the contact to one another as if to reassure one another of being there somewhere. Chats and videos on Snapchat can contain some information or exchange, but mostly it is a way to ‘wave’ to one another and maintain the sense of who’s around? Messenger is used for communication and for messages with more content or information or questions, etc.

What I also learned, was that you, as an adult, can be allowed to visit children’s favorite media, but you remain a visitor and better not pretend otherwise. I made some attempts to mimic their playful ways of interacting, and they were kind enough to play back, but such attempts never live on for very long. I am however grateful to have been allowed to peep inside and get a feeling of how youth communicate on their social media of choice. So far, the way it makes sense to me, is that social media gives children an opportunity to create psychological and social presence and maintain a sense of belonging. But then again, this is an outsider’s view, the truth is with the users…