Part One of a Three Part Series.

A recent survey by Disney of more than 1,500 10- to 17-year-old cell phone users found that teens and tweens don’t want to live without their mobile phones. If they had to choose between using their phone or another activity, one-third would stop playing video games, listening to the radio, and going to the mall. Nearly one quarter would give up their MP3 players and one in five said they would sacrifice television. That’s loyalty!

How can you leverage that love of communication to create a more positive outcome? Parents worry that cell phones are a distraction, a waste of time, and a money pit. After all, what can you do with a mobile phone other than text, call, and send pictures to your friends? As it turns out, you can do plenty. Smart phone functionality and mobile applications offer a treasure trove of learning support. Get creative. If your child has a mobile phone, he or she also has access to a long list of tools to enhance learning, stay organized, and collaborate on projects.

A cell phone is a clock, calculator, notepad, alarm, reminder, calendar, dictionary, encyclopedia, and a pipeline to teachers and tutors. Students can use it to track assignments and their due dates, record thoughts and oral reports, set up study reminders and exam schedules, create mobile study groups, collect data, translate languages, generate slide shows, conduct informal research, create an audio broadcast, convert currency, and photograph their experiments and experiences.

The Web site www.TeachingGenerationText.com is just one of many sites on the Internet that demonstrate the myriad uses of cell phones for the student and teacher. Do a little surfing and help your student harness the power of the mobile toolbox.