Cell Phone Trifecta: If You Can’t Join ’em, Beat ’em!

How many teachers do you know who would give their eyeteeth for one of these gadgets? (from NY Times)

The jamming technology works by sending out a radio signal so powerful that phones are overwhelmed and cannot communicate with cell towers. The range varies from several feet to several yards, and the devices cost from $50 to several hundred dollars. Larger models can be left on to create a no-call zone.

Here’s the rub:

Using the jammers is illegal in the United States. The radio frequencies used by cellphone carriers are protected, just like those used by television and radio broadcasters.

The Federal Communication Commission says people who use cellphone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense. Its enforcement bureau has prosecuted a handful of American companies for distributing the gadgets — and it also pursues their users.

Would you risk the legal ramifications in order to guarantee an end to illicit cell phone use in your classroom? As long as you didn’t flaunt it like an idiot, there’s probably a very low risk of getting caught.

Is this the ultimate answer to ending unwanted cell phone use – equip teachers with pocket-sized jammers?


  • Hi Damien

    Just a quick comment.

    Its the philosophy behind the technology that I object to. We are still building walls and engaging in an “arms race” with our kids… like, somehow, they are the enemy.

    i would prefer to build community and develop trust and respect.

  • In theory I agree with russel — we should not be building walls. But when those above me insist on building these walls, the jammer seems like an easier solution than a)having to replace the phone because you picked it up and the front office lost it or b) writing a constant stream of referrals that get ignored c) be threatened with meaningless sanctions for not “enforcing the school rules” or d) losing class time to a pointless issue.

    I guess my point is that there are environments within which it’s pretty difficult, almost impossible, to “Build” any community contrary to the stronger one of the school at large.

    But oh, for the days when we could be free…

  • @Taylor I took the liberty of deleting the mistaken comment and your clarification. I have been thru the “meaningless paperwork” tango myself, and prefer to deal with the issue “in house.” Luckily, I don’t have to deal with it that often.

    @Russel That would be my preferred approach as well. As I’ve said before, I think the cell phones themselves are incidental, and I think your “arms race” metaphor is perfect. The best we can do, I s’pose, is be conscientious objectors.

  • Forget equipping the teachers with ‘pocket-sized jammers’. Many are already hard-wired with such a device.

    Ever run a PD workshop???

    good lord.

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