Things have changed a lot at our school. A few weeks ago we started collecting our student cell phones at the start of each day. Cell phones have become progressively more distracting to our students over the years, and we thought we would see what life was like in a school without them. Admittedly, we have always had rules and policies limiting student cell phone use. Unfortunately, the dramatic growth in cell phone use by our students has made it increasingly difficult to enforce these policies. Allowing a teenager to carry, but not use, his/her cell phone is like asking a dog not to eat the steak you leave on the floor. You can never turn your back, and it would require constant vigilance and attention. So we separated the cell phone from the student, and observed some interesting changes:
The Lunch Room was Much Louder – The lunchroom was not quiet before, but now it is almost unpleasantly loud. Access to devices really limits the number of students engaged in conversation. As more students start talking, they each needed to talk louder-and-louder to be heard. Following increased interaction, some students were even observed making friendship bracelets.
Teachers Noted Increased Engagement – This was an interesting observation. Some reports have stated that “cell phone addiction” leads to decreased brain connectivity. Students today really live in two worlds: the physical world and the digital world. Before collecting cell phones, our student were capable of stealing time at school to participate in their digital world. As student continues to think through what’s happening in their digital world, it takes away from the energy they have to think and engage in the physical world.
More Student Smiles – As students became more engaged in their physical world, they interacted more with peers. Similar to the lunchroom, the hallways became more of a place for interaction. They may have been talking about how much they hated being apart from their cell phone, but at least they were talking to each other. There was also less hallway collisions as students were no longer looking down at their phone.
Parents Were Quite Happy – We received mostly positive and supportive comments from our parents. School is not the only place teens overuse cell phones. An increasing number of organization are calling our modern cell phone habits an addiction. Our students have access to landline phones if they need to get in touch with someone, and most parents realize cell phone use has become a problem for their children.
Students Were Not Very Happy – This was one negative side effect of separating students from cell phones. While admitting they had crossed the line, our student believed they could keep their phone and follow the school rules. We had several student meetings and petitions, and came up with a few compromises.
While not without some issues, we believe our restriction of cell phone access has been a positive change for our students and school. Sadly for our students, this is likely to be a change we keep next year.
At the Tenney school, we are privileged to provide our students with a one-on-one experience. Our staff is able to strongly connect with each student, building an engaging learning environment. If you would like more information, please contact us today!