Whitefield Academy Blog
Should Cell Phones Be Allowed in Middle Schools?
Technology has been on our minds a lot lately. How much is too much? How young is too young?
My husband was listening to NPR the other day and sent me the interview he heard: “The Campaign to Keep Middle School Students Off Their Cell Phones.” Click through to read it.
“Away for the Day”
Delaney Ruston, a physician and documentary film maker on the subject of students and cell phones, explains the “Away for the Day” movement.
…”Away for the Day” is a movement to get cellphones out of the middle schools across the country, to have them put in places like lockers. And it’s all about giving tools to parents and teachers to help them change middle schools to become “Away for the Day” schools. And this is really based on science. When we look at middle schoolers, they actually can have a negative experience, a negative impact of academics and emotional well-being when they’re allowed to have their phones all day because frankly they’re using them in the halls, at lunch and sneaking them a lot in classrooms.
She goes on to say,
…really the data shows that the highest rates of emotional problems related to social media are among middle school-age kids. And as I mentioned, academic success can be hindered by these phones, particularly at this age when we know developmentally impulse control is a big issue. And frankly, they are so craving social acceptance that the pull for social media as well as the desire to be on video games is incredibly high at this age group, and the ability to resist that urge, frankly, can be incredibly hard for many of them. And, you know, the interesting thing is that there are kids who are able to resist. But when they see the other middle schoolers on their phones, it can be really then distracting for them.
But Can’t We Just Promise Not to Use Them?
I’m going to put myself out there and say that I see absolutely no benefit to cell phones in schools. Allowing phones but saying that they need to be in purses or pockets during class is a joke. I used to teach in a school where this was the rule, and the amount of time that I spent calling out kids for texting in class, taking cell phones away, managing and labeling whose cell phones were on my desk, and sending kids to the counselor to deal with mean tweets they were sending IN CLASS was significant compared to the amount of time I spent actually teaching. I once had a fellow teacher pull me out of class to say that one of my students had just messaged said teacher’s wife on Facebook a few minutes earlier. Seriously.
The only argument that I can barely see a glimmer of agreement with is that kids need cell phones so that they can be in touch with parents. But back in my day, if I needed to tell my mom that I had to stay for play practice, I just went to the office and called her…or if she needed to tell me she was going to be late, she called the office and told them. Having instant access to your kids to ask if they want chicken or tacos for dinner is nice, but if parents are texting kids during class, what does that teach kids about the importance of school? It’s not as important as what mom is cooking for dinner?
Let’s save everyone the stress and require that phones be “Away for the Day.”