Cell-phone snitch

British schools are installing cell phone detectors to prevent students from using their phones to photograph classmates in changing rooms or cheat on exams.

The detectors discreetly alert teachers that a mobile is switched on. Or they make a recorded loudspeaker announcement. “We have detected your mobile phone,” an authoritative voice booms. “Turn off your mobile immediately.”

Of 4,500 pupils reported to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for exam cheating in summer 2005, 1,100 were found to have smuggled in mobile phones.

Under British law, schools can’t use technology that blocks cell phone calls and text mesages.

Update: Cell phones are like gum, writes teacher Betty on Betty’s Blog. She quotes a survey of Florida students at St. Petersburgh High:

95% have cell phones.
97% of those who have cell phones bring them to school.
88% know the district’s policy on cell phone use.
90% of students who know the policy disobey it.
95% of the students who disobey the rule text message during class.
24% say they have used their cell phones to cheat.
28% say they have had their cell phones confiscated.

Florida schools are thinking of modifying bans on students turning on their cell phones during school hours. Wimpiness is not good policy, writes Matthew Tabor.

About Joanne


  1. While I’d prefer a blocker (and I have threatened more than once to invest in enough brass screening to convert my classroom into a Faraday cage), I do have to admit I like the idea of a cell-phone detector that embarrasses the students.

    (Or maybe students aren’t embarrassed by that kind of thing any more?)

    At any rate – are these coming Stateside any time soon? Can we lobby to have them put into libraries and movie theaters?

  2. wayne martin says:

    With a little more work .. the Cell Phone ID could be used to determine the name of the owner, which could be added to the alert message.

  3. Another report I saw said the British schools could not use a blocker. Evidently, it’s illegal in Britain to use them. I like the previous suggestions, too.

  4. We are a UK based company who have developed a product to specifically tackle the problems of cell phones in the classroom, mobile cheating and cyber bullying. We belive our product to be the most sophisticated around allowing multiple detection of both phone signals and phone digital cameras. Our product also can scan the area to find the phone being illegally used.
    We have found our product to be highly effective in curbing the problems associated with cell phone misuse; the one thing a child doesnt want is for their phone to be taken away or to be disqualified from an exam. Our system works as an efficient deterrent with a campaign we have launched including classroom literature and posters.
    We are marketing our product for use in the USA also as cell phone jammers are illegal to use also in this territory.

    For further info please look at our website http://www.phonebuster.co.uk or get in touch with me at jweinstock@phonebuster.co.uk