As parents come to rely more on cell phones to keep track of their children, school and state officials are increasingly overturning decades-old bans on cell phones and pagers in schools.

The digital communications devices, once seen as expensive tools for drug dealers, are becoming ubiquitous: 52% of 16- and 17-year-olds own one, as do 33% of kids 12 to 15, according to Teen Research Unlimited.

In the 1980s and ’90s, many school boards banned the devices, and states passed laws making their use — often even their possession — a criminal act punishable by mandatory suspension or expulsion.

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