The most intriguing part of the ban on cellphones in the upper school is that the claims on which it is based perpetuate the idea that every negative thing in a teenager’s life is caused by the presence of cellphones in their lives.
I’m sure we as students have all heard something along the lines of ‘it’s because of that darn phone,’ or ‘Well maybe if you weren’t on your phone so much, x wouldn’t happen.’ This is said because it is so much easier to blame some feelings or instances on the tiny piece of technology in your hand, than to unpack why something is actually happening.
It’s redundant to complain about the new policy, I know. However it’s not the ban of phones that troubles me the most, I am able to understand that technology as a whole is not good for the development of adolescent brains. It’s the fact that every possible explanation for why the ban on phones is in place was because it was a ‘it’s because of that darn phone’ claim.
An ‘it’s because of that darn phone’ claim (as defined by me) is a claim in which one makes in order to imply that something going on is because of ‘that darn phone’ and does not consider that the retreat to a phone could be caused by something completely different.
For example, the school’s most popular reason for banning cellphones is because they want the student body to talk to each other, and not to be antisocial and consumed in their phones.
Putting phones aside, let’s consider why a student may not be interacting with another student on any given day.
Maybe that student just flunked a quiz, and doesn’t want to talk to anyone for a couple of minutes. Maybe that student has been having a really hard time recently, and doesn’t have the energy to put on a smile for their peers. Maybe that student is under-stimulated, and needs a minute to play a silly game on their phone. Or maybe, that student just doesn’t want to talk to the people around them.
Yes, there are some students who pull out their phones to scroll through Instagram when they could be talking to their friends who are right in front of them, but that one student who is needlessly using their phone does not represent the entire student body.
I would also argue that our student body is incredibly interactive with each other. We chat with each other during sports, we have an incredible amount of interest clubs that students actively participate in, and there is no lack of cross talking between class changes or in the classes themselves.
Another very common idea that has been brought up is the link between social media and teenage mental health. However a 2020 report called “Tweens, Teens, Tech & Mental Health” by Common Sense and Candice Ogders, a professor of psychological science, says that any identified associations between social media and mental health are too small, and therefore it is difficult to distinguish between cause and effect.
UCI School of Ecology summarized Ogders’ point. “The claim that screen time and social media use is a cause of mental health outcomes is uncertain, and identified associations are small, accounting for less than 1% of the differences between adolescents, and offer no way to separate cause from effect,” the articled surmised. “This is because mental health disorders emerge from a complex set of social, genetic, and experiential factors, which have varying influence across development and situations.”
To offer concrete scientific evidence on why phones and social media are damaging teens (and society as a whole) would have sufficed. The school could have left us with a study by a credible scientist or a quote from a health organization. Instead chosen claims are ones that perpetuate the idea that every feeling or situation that teenagers experience is a reflection of how phone obsessed they are.
To have a community that talks to each other, it is not necessary to simply bring the hammer down, but to have productive conversations with each other, that do not just indulge the point of view of adults. Teenagers have thoughts and feelings, sometimes phones are simply a mirror of what an individual is feeling, and that’s what we should be talking about.
- Helen Hertz
I believe that there is tremendous value in the phone policy. Phones should not be used in a classroom setting (unless for an activity) because it distracts from the lesson.
However, I question the ban on phones outside of the classroom. While I recognized the the use of phones between classes could muddle the learning mindset and render future lessons less effective, the use of phones outside of class can have some merit.
The principle argument offered by the administration as to why they banned phones is that this ban will result in the development of communication skills. If this is such a high priority, then why haven’t we banned all forms of solitary activity? I would argue that reading a novel during break would have the same impact as phones on communication. Through the lens of communication development, isn’t scrolling through tiktok just as isolating as reading a book?
Instead I would argue that using phones during breaks can be beneficial. While the act of using phones can be solitary, it can also be communal as well. Imagine a scenario where a student finds a funny tiktok, then decides to share it with their friends. Although the initial act of finding the tiktok was solitary, the sharing of it can be communal. While a lack of sharing could be a potential problem, I have not observed this during break or lunch as of yet.
Regardless, our school should be carful in how it chooses to exert its power. While the school could take a hands-off towards students and say that high schoolers are responsible for themselves and whatever poor decision they make is their own concern, that would likely result in a highly unproductive atmosphere. On the flip side, high schoolers can’t have zero freedom. They need to develop their own discipline and responsibly for latter in life.
The point I’m trying to make here is that while the school could regulate phones during breaks, phone use during class is far more of an issue. Letting students use their phones during breaks but not class would provide a balance between letting students experiment with maturity and structure. -Konur Onufer
The phone policy does not make sense on a practical or theoretical level. Supposedly, the idea is that they want us to be talking to each other when we are not in class, however, generally when we are not talking to each other outside of class it is because we are working on homework. Also, a lot of the time when we would have been on our phones before, we were not supposed to be talking to each other anyways. Finally, the rule where we cannot even get our phones out to just plug them in is totally illogical. We are not using them to plug them in, and it is important that they are charged after school when we do need them.
-- Jamey Davis
I feel like the phone policy makes kids more sneaky & everyone just uses their phones without teachers knowing. I also feel that a lot of students use their phones to do school work so taking them away is hard. The goal of the school is to get students to interact more which has worked in some regard, but most of the things students talk about they find on their phones so we just sit there in silence. In my opinion nothing has changed with this new policy. I do agree with the fact of if you are on your phone in class it should be taken, but during break and lunch I feel like it is pointless. - Ava Dalaski
I think its worked very well. Less phones has allowed us to become a better community through more interactions with each other.
- Peter Krzeminski
The no cell phone rule is necessary since it goes without saying that using a phone while you should be paying attention in class can be disruptive and distracting. Due to the importance of this rule, it must be effectively enforced. For example, removing cell phones entirely from the school day may cause students to feel as though they are giving up a lot of freedom, which encourages sneaky behavior. Additionally, the immediate consequences of having your phone taken away without the opportunity for a second chance may lead students and teachers to mistrust each other.