The Cell Phone Policy: One year later, is it helping or hindering?


Juliet Suess

By Anusha Mathur ’20 and Alex Daum ’20

The middle school cell phone policy has been continued for the 2016-2017 school year. The policy prohibits phone use from first through eighth period. The only exceptions to the policy are in class use for educational purposes with permission from the teacher or use in a dean’s office to communicate with a family member or coach.
According to the deans, the policy was instated because cell phones were decreasing interaction between students and were excluding students who were not on their phones or did not have phones.
They also said that phones were distracting kids from their school work, and one major goal of the policy is to help students with organization. However, we believe
that the policy is not successful at achieving its goal and that it ultimately doesn’t make students any more inclined to do their work.
Cell phones are helpful to students. They enable communication and can be used for school-related work. Students use their phones for academic purposes, such as looking up information on the internet, because pulling out a phone to look something up is much easier than having to get out a computer. Additionally, when students are able to carry their phone with them, it is much easier for students to communicate amongst themselves or with parents and coaches.
Since they are not allowed to have their phones out, students will often not receive important information from their parents during the day simply because they do not see the message. Furthermore, the middle school campus is so large, and phones are essential for students who are trying to meet up during the school day, to work on group projects or school-related work.
The cell phone policy is ineffective at achieving its goal of minimizing distractions. Forcing students to get off their phones does not decrease students’ attachment to these devices or suddenly make them more inclined to do their school work.
Gaming has also persisted despite the restrictive policy. Many students have continued to do different non-work-related activities such as playing games or going on social media on other devices, such as their computers. Since students continue to be distracted by electronics, the policy ends up hurting those who are using their phones for school-related purposes without benefiting anyone.
A cell phone policy also does not solve the problem of students being excluded from social communities. Regardless of whether or not cell phones are allowed during school hours or not, there will still be small select groups. Not having cell phones does not make these circles any more welcoming to other students. Additionally, not all 300 students in a grade will be able to talk at the same time, so a cell phone policy will not be able to bring everyone together in the first place.
Likewise, the concern of cell phones hindering students’ organization is actually worsened by the cell phone policy. Before, most students used the HW app to keep track of their schedule, homework and other school related-work. Apps like these enable
organization, and with the current cell phone policy, students are prohibited from using them, which can cause disorganization for students who rely on them.
Cell phones can help students with their academic work and are essential to communication. A restrictive cell phone policy completely eliminates all these benefits. Since students continue to use other devices for non-school related purposes, the cell phone policy should be repealed.