The Cellphone Policy Debate

Bailey Langhans, Journalist

When you walk around the school you will likely see a cell phone in almost everyone’s hand or pocket. In the modern age, technology is incorporated into our everyday lives and is now often seen in the classroom. Mr. Newswander, one of the school’s Deans, explained how at the end of last year many voices in the community such as teachers, parents and students expressed how the old cell phone policy was not working after three years of being in effect. To avoid distraction from learning in class, South High School has established a new policy that states, “Cell phones and headphones are not to be seen or used in the classroom at any time, for any reason.” 

This new rule has caused many different perspectives to emerge which brings on the question if the new cell phone policy is effective in increasing student productivity. When interviewing teachers on this question a majority of them believed that the policy was effective. Ms. Redlin, an English and debate teacher stated, “I see a great increase in student productivity from last year.” Numerous other teachers agree that students are less distracted and more present in class. Other positive effects were brought up, such as uniting South as a whole with the same expectations and helping students connect to each other in the class instead of relying on their phones when they are bored. 

Despite all the positives teachers expressed a few negative effects. One negative effect relates to the headphone portion of the policy. Many students could benefit from listening to music while doing independent work, however, the policy prevents this. Another teacher mentioned that banning cell phones can produce the potential of creating tension between teachers and students. Students may fight against the cell phone rule causing teachers to be seen as enforcers instead of helpers for learning. 

Various students also expressed their own opinion on the policy. Surprisingly, most students that were interviewed were neutral on the topic and could see both the positives and negatives of the new rules. The majority of students agreed that without cell phones, some students are more productive, but other students are more tempted to sneak their phones or mess around with friends. Junior Adam Elghardgui stated that “The phone is a gateway to the internet that people are going to use as they see fit.” Some people might use their phones responsibly while others will use it to be off task, however, a conflicting point exemplifies how computer provides the same access to the internet as a phone does. 

Students opposing the policy mentioned that sometimes cell phones can be useful in the classroom with teacher permission. Phones can be used as a calculator, for spelling and quick access to the internet if a computer is not available. They also mentioned how some websites that are useful for research in class are blocked on the computer, so sometimes a student might need their phone with teacher approval. Lastly, most students agreed with the teachers that headphones are useful during independent work time to be focused.

Overall there are many different opinions on the different aspects of the cell phone policy and what the school might want to improve. Some people interviewed wanted to change nothing whereas others wanted to get rid of it although. Overall most people believed that students should be able to listen to music during independent work time when allowed by a teacher. To add on, some people believed that the policy should depend on the class subject, assignments and teachers, because each environment is different and in some classes phones may be useful. For now, everyone will have to be patient and see how the cell phone policy is developed and if it continues to be effective.