Overhype

by Mike Masnick




MMS Scandal Leads To Complete Over Reaction By Government

from the yeah,-like-that-will-help dept

Back in November, we first wrote about the growing "scandal" in India where two students recorded a sexually explicit video with a cameraphone and it got sent around via MMS. At the time, we noted that the school in question had responded by banning all mobile phones at the school, which seemed a bit extreme. Why punish everyone for something a few students did -- and which was unlikely to have been done at the school in the first place? However, that scandal took on a life of its own, even leading to the arrest of the head of eBay's Indian subsidiary because someone tried to sell the MMS video on that site. Now, the government in New Delhi has taken the ban on mobile phones to an even more ridiculous extreme, and has banned all mobile phones from all public schools, while urging other schools to do the same. Again, it's hard to see how this is anything but an over reaction to the issue. It wasn't the phones that created the problem, but the students who misused the phones. Why should everyone else get punished for that? At the same time, is this really likely to stop similar things from happening again?

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  • identicon
    aperson, 1 Feb 2005 @ 12:43pm

    flush phones

    Banning mobile phones at schools is a good thing. They are much less a functional device than an expensive social accessory.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 1 Feb 2005 @ 1:35pm

      Re: flush phones

      I have to agree with you there, and hope that US schools follow suit. With any luck, the reason will simply be that kids are in school to learn, not mess with their phones.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike (profile), 1 Feb 2005 @ 2:43pm

        Re: flush phones

        For some reason, that reminds me of folks who wanted to ban music and art classes at schools, arguing that kids are in school to learn to read and write, not to draw or sing.

        It's also like some companies that originally wanted to not use telephones or computers in the office on the argument that employees are there to work, not talk.

        No one is saying kids should be using mobile phones all the time in schools, but they are becoming a central part of how people live their lives, and often represent a very useful tool for communicating with family in the event of an emergency. It's hard to see what good a complete ban does.

        Punishing misuse makes sense. Banning them completely is silly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          jayrtfm, 1 Feb 2005 @ 5:49pm

          Re: flush phones

          I'm in favor of banning phones in the schools.
          I work with ateacher in a NYC high school, so I have first hand experiance on just how detrimental it is.
          " represent a very useful tool for communicating with family in the event of an emergency"
          current policy is that in the event of an emergancy the person should call the front office, and the student will be brought to the phone. Same system that's worked pretty good for 60+ years
          Also, just what is a family emergancy? wanna bet it's running out of pot?
          with an earpiece, and long hair, we've had many many cases of kids talking in class, being totally disracted from the lesson, even talking DURING individual instruction.
          having a total ban on cell phones gives us a practical way of enforcing classroom disipline.
          consider 2 different possible rules
          1- phones allowed, but not allowed to be used during class time
          2 - no phones allowed - period
          so.. a student is caught for the fourth time talking on the phone during a lesson, or even a test.
          under the first rule the student can deny that the phone was on, and can even claim a dead battery or something. Chances are the parent would back up their child, and chances of a meaninful consequence are remote.
          under the second rule, there's physical evidence of the student breaking a rule, namely the phone, which could be confiscated until the parent comes in to pick it up.
          sure, the technology isn't the problem, it's the irresponsible use of the tech which is the problem, and allmost by definition, teenagers aren't responsible.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 1 Feb 2005 @ 7:34pm

            Re: You don't spell like a teacher

            God help us, a teacher learned how to use a computer rather than paper and crayon!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              jayrtfm, 1 Feb 2005 @ 8:09pm

              Re: You don't spell like a teacher

              >>"God help us, a teacher learned how to use a computer rather than paper and crayon!"
              was that addressed to me? yeah, I forgot to spell check before posting. And no, I'm not a teacher, I work with the Art & Technology teacher in the eMac lab (and the rest of the classrooms have PC's and there's PC laptops which are mainly being used in the science labs)

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Chris Lawson, 1 Feb 2005 @ 5:51pm

          Re: flush phones

          Banning cell fones at schools makes perfect sense. If there's an emergency, the parents can call the school.

          Cell fones have no more business in schools as an emergency contact device than they do in movie theatres. When you're in a public place with lots of people (including authority figures like teachers and administrators in the case of a school), having a cell fone isn't going to get an emergency handled any faster. If urgent medical care is needed, use a landline to call 911. If something has happened elsewhere, well, parents ought to be involved enough to have their kids' school numbers on speed-dial. Don't rely on your child having a cell fone in class.

          My kids will *not* have cell fones at school, nor would I permit them in my class were I a teacher. There's just no point.

          cl

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          aperson, 1 Feb 2005 @ 6:46pm

          Re: flush phones

          Your "ban music and art" analogy is absurd. You are losing sight of the big picture. Students go to school to LEARN, whatever the subject matter. If a school decides to have a learn-mobile-phones class, then fine, let the kids take their mobile phones to class. Students are not there, however much they think otherwise, to impress each other and play stupid social clique games.

          There are also many common sense reasons why companies should disallow employees from using mobile phones. Is it sensible to allow an assembly line worker to be taking phone calls while putting a car together? Of course not.

          Do you know why many schools have a dress code? It's so you can't tell the rich kids from the poor ones, it is an egalitarian measure. There is no competition for outrageous and/or expensive clothing. Where there is no dress code the kids end up worrying more about what kind of shoes they're wearing or expressing their social allegiences through clothing than their classes.

          When I was a student I had no problem contacting people from school. I simply went to the school office and asked to use the phone. If there is an emergency on school grounds, it is the responsibility of the school to handle that emergency, not emotional children with mobile phones. I think mobile phones are less a "central part of how people live their lives" than you would have us think. They are certainly less important than our clothes.

          As to "punishing misuse", prevention is a far better cure. Firstly, if you're punishing misuse, then something has already gone wrong. Secondly, you are making the assumption that children are going to behave responsibly. I don't know what planet you come from, but all the children must be really well behaved and nice and never do anything bad or wrong.

          If kids want to drop off/pick up their phones on the way in or out fine but do not let them carry them around the school.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Mike (profile), 2 Feb 2005 @ 2:15am

            Re: flush phones

            Students are not there, however much they think otherwise, to impress each other and play stupid social clique games.

            Wow. Why is it that everyone assumes that all students will somehow misuse phones in class. If they are misusing them (and your description is a misuse), then they should be stopped. However, banning the phone outright is an extreme move that makes very little sense. It's blaming the technology for the actions of a few.

            As for those who think the safety issue is overblown, here's a story that makes the point clear: Drinking bus driver arrested after student calls 911 from cell phone.

            Sure, there are some situations where phone calls from a centralized source make sense, but there are plenty of other circumstances under which a mobile phone makes much more sense.

            No one is saying students should be using their phones all day. But banning them completely is a mistake and an over reaction.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              aperson, 2 Feb 2005 @ 1:17pm

              Re: flush phones

              "Why is it that everyone assumes that all students will somehow misuse phones in class."

              Obviously you never went to school.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              jayrtfm, 2 Feb 2005 @ 9:17pm

              Re: flush phones

              >>"Wow. Why is it that everyone assumes that all students will somehow misuse phones in class"
              umnn, maybe firsthand everyday experiance?
              ok, I'll concede that it's not every student, just enough of them (over 20% on some days) to make it a serious problem.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Laurence, 1 Feb 2005 @ 8:08pm

    No Subject Given

    Though I would tend to agree than banning all mobile phones from the school is extreme I am rather disapointed by the way you are trying to support your point.

    " It wasn't the phones that created the problem, but the students who misused the phones. Why should everyone else get punished for that?"

    It is the same thinking some are using to carry guns.... saying that the problem is not to carry a gun but the misuse of it....

    Not sure you want to jump in the same wagon

    Obviously one would argue a gun is not a camphone though in my book the vicious thinking is similar.

    I do not think there is a sound reason for kids to carry a phone at school...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Precision Blogger, 2 Feb 2005 @ 6:54am

    Perhaps they needed to tie up their milk...

    What's evident is that you've identified some people who REALLY wanted to ban cell phones. Here's the relevant anecdote:
    A fellow asks his neighbor if he can borrow his 40 foot rope. Neighbor says "Sorry, I need it to tie my milk up."
    "What? What do you mean, you need to tie up your milk?"
    The neighbor explains: "When I don't want to do something, ANY excuse will suffice."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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