BLUE SPRINGS, Mo.–Should parents let kids take their cellphones to school? A University of Missouri Extension 4-H youth development specialist looks at the pros and cons.

First, parents should check with school officials about policies on cellphone usage, said Alan J. Mundey. “Most school administrations tend to regard cellphones as disruptive and distracting, so they may prohibit their use on school grounds.”

The pros

-You can keep in touch with your children and know their whereabouts.

-In the event of an emergency, you can contact your kids and they can contact you.

-If in danger, children can contact the authorities or a medical provider.

-Phones can be silenced or turned off during class or study periods.

The cons

-Students often forget to turn off their phones in class, so ringtones and text-message alerts may disrupt learning.

-Text messaging has become a high-tech way of passing notes in class.

-Students have been known to use cellphones to disrupt schools by calling in bomb threats.

-During a widespread crisis, mass cellphone use can overload communication systems, rendering them inoperable.

-The long-term physical effects of cellphone use are still undetermined.

A recent online poll conducted by asked, “Would you allow your child to take a cellphone to school?” The 3,386 respondents answered as follows:

-7 percent: “Never. It's completely inappropriate.”

-3 percent: “I'll let the school dictate the decision.”

-32 percent: “Yes, on the condition that my child is responsible about turning it off during class time.”

-10 percent: “When my child reaches a certain age, I would allow it.”

-47 percent: “Definitely. I like knowing that I can reach my child whenever I need to.”

“Short of checking every student’s backpack, school officials can only enforce cellphone bans when they catch a student with a prohibited device, so the real decision regarding cellphones lies with parents,” Mundey said.