Staff Editorial: Our Cellphones, Our Cells

Maya Durham, Opinions Editor

As reported by Little Hawk Reporter Maya Chadwick, City High has started the new “secure your phone” system. This policy was created over the summer in response to overwhelming cellphone use during classes. Students will be reminded at the beginning of every class to “secure their phones,” and will receive one warning if they don’t — after that reminder, a hall monitor will be called, and they will lock the cell phone in the new cell phone lockers.

The Little Hawk staff is split on this issue, with eight votes for the policy and eight against. Proponents of the policy believe that cellphone use in class is not only distracting for the students on the phone, but it disturbs other students as well.

“I think our generation is facing an addiction to these technologies, and I think it’s largely disruptive to always have a distraction at your fingertips,” says Nova Meurice ‘17. “I don’t think there should be such an uproar about not using cellphones in school.”

Many people agree with Meurice — cellphones are a huge distraction in the classroom. In fact, according to a 2015 study at Harvard University, “92% of [students] use their phones to send text messages during class.” That same study stated that students who were sitting near a classmate that was texting or multitasking scored worse on assignments and exams than those who weren’t distracted by a peer.

In addition to limiting distractions, banning or regulating cell phone use can improve academic performance, particularly among at-risk students. In an article by TIME Magazine, it was found that “exam scores climbed by as much as 6% in schools that imposed strict bans on cell phones.” In the article, it was stated that there was little to no difference noticed in high scoring students, but there was significant gain among “underachieving and disadvantaged students.”

On the other hand, some Little Hawk staff members believe that cellphones aid them in the classroom. A number of teachers have started teaching their classes through technology — either through Google Classroom or other educational apps or tools — and the English department at City High has one-to-one Chromebooks in every classroom.

Madeline Deninger ‘17 says that she doesn’t see the advantage of banning cellphones in class.

“There are a lot of things you can do with phones,” Deninger says. “[They’re] a really good resource. There’s so much information you have in your hand, and you can use that to do productive things.”

Using technology in classrooms, or “blended learning,” has many benefits — it can make seemingly boring lessons more interactive, with videos or games, make students more excited for learning, and, according to the National Science and Math Initiative, it prepares “both students and teachers for the 21st century.”

Over all, City’s policy is pretty effective — it limits cell phone use without banning them completely, doesn’t immediately punish students for using their phones, and provides a safe and secure place for cell phones by holding them in a “cell phone locker.” Although other districts have taken much harsher measures, ours creates a neutral way to curb distractions and enhance the learning environment.