Schools enforce rules to keep students focused in class, away from social media

Since cell phones were banned in the classroom at Concord High School at the beginning of the year, 11th grader Skylar Hubbard says she’s been able to focus better.

After a difficult period of remote learning when students could easily escape their teachers’ gaze or simply turn off the Zoom camera and gain unrestricted access to their phones, going back in person was an adjustment.

Hubbard said the simple act of moving her phone from its tempting spot on the desk to a backpack where it’s out of sight has made a world of difference.

“I feel like I’m paying more attention to what my professors are saying and stuff, rather than just playing games on my phone,” Hubbard said.

Concord High School started the school year with a strong base – at the start of classes, all cell phones should be switched off and out of sight in backpacks. Students are welcome to use their phones when they are not in class – during time, lunch or the classroom – but when they are in class they should be free from distraction. It’s not a new policy, but Reardon said they are making a concerted effort to make sure the policy is applied evenly every semester.

Concord isn’t alone in trying to handle teen phone use. A recent study conducted by Pew Research Center It found that 35% of teens say they use social media on their phone “almost constantly,” whether it’s TikTok, Youtube, Instagram or Snapchat.

Teens are aware of their use of cell phones. About a third (36%) say they spend too much time on social media and more than half (54%) of teens say it would be somewhat difficult to give up, according to the Pew study.

Prior to this year, Reardon said, teachers were implementing the policy to varying degrees. If some teachers are lenient about using the phone, it makes it difficult for other teachers to enforce it if they want to. The end result was that the use of the cell phone was creating a “barrier” for students who remained on assignment.

You get into ‘Why can I do it there, but not here?’ “Write a deal,” Reardon said. “Now if everyone does that, and it becomes an integral part of the school’s culture, it becomes a non-issue.”

Reardon said he talks to students about the importance of the school by explaining how much money is needed to run the district, and that their parents contribute tax dollars to their educational experience.

“School is a serious business,” Reardon said. “When you’re in class, you have to do your work, which means you can’t use your phone.”

Eleventh grader Keyana Jensen wishes politics were a little more relaxed and that phones were allowed during independent work time, or at the end of term when students finish their work early. Jensen says that listening to music on headphones actually helps her focus while working, especially when the room is noisy.

“If someone is noisy in the classroom, I can’t just put them away and listen to the music,” Jensen said.

Student Lazar Magar felt similarly, saying she doesn’t feel distracted by her phone in class and wishes she could use it during her spare moments.

“I see, it’s so we can focus. But some people can focus,” Magar said. “Some people play on their phones all the time, but I’m not that kind of person.”

Among schools in the metropolitan area, cell phone policies vary in strictness by age.

Most middle schools, including Bow Memorial, Hopkinton Middle and Franklin Middle, do not allow cell phone use at any time during the school day, saying phones should be turned off and kept in a backpack or locker when in the building, they said. Student Handbooks. Even some middle schools, such as Wear Middle, prefer students not to bring personal cell phones to school at all, although most schools allow this for safety purposes. Most middle schools encourage students to use a landline phone in the main office if they need to call a parent or guardian during the day.

High school students are usually entrusted with more freedom when it comes to using the phone. At most local high schools, including Hopkinton High and John Stark Regional, high school students are allowed to use their phones at school when they’re not in class, such as during lunch or traffic, although they must put them away in class, according to their student handbooks.

In Merrimack Valley, the Student Advisory Board is working with management this semester to develop clear expectations about cell phone use on campus. In a letter to parents on September 23, Principal David Miller said the school had some issues with phones causing disruption and students registering others without their consent. Submit a parent survey to collect input on responsible and appropriate use of a mobile phone at school.

“While the school opening has been very positive, MVHS continues to see a growing number of concerns regarding inappropriate use of cell phones at school,” Miller wrote. “In many cases, the use of these individual devices disrupts the learning environment.”

Franklin High School is going through the same process as the Concorde Accord to put a new focus on pre-existing policy to ensure that it is applied in the same way throughout the school.

“It wasn’t quite as described, meaning there were a lot of different expectations in the classroom,” said David Levesque, principal of Franklin High School. “We as faculty and staff want to make sure we all do the same, certain rules we want to make sure everyone follows.”

Franklin Hay’s rule is that students are not allowed to use cell phones or headphones in academic areas, such as classrooms and the library. They are allowed to use their phones during traffic times between classes, in the cafeteria during lunch and in the classroom.

“This is a life skill as well. When we’re at work, we can’t use our phones. They understand that,” Levesque said.

Teachers have different ways of dealing with it in the classroom. Most teachers only require phones to be put in backpacks. Some have a bag or basket to keep students’ phones until the end of class. One teacher at Franklin has charging stations placed throughout the classroom.

There is also flexibility in the policy, Levesque said. If the class ends a few minutes early, the teacher may allow students to take out their phones and teachers can incorporate phone use into their lessons for educational purposes.

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic when learning moved online for the majority of students like Hubbard, all-day use of technology became a daily part of everyday life.

“I think the coronavirus years have doubled cell phone use because of the piece of connectivity,” Levesque said. “When you’re home alone during COVID and you can’t communicate, you have to use the cell phone to connect with people. We’re really focused on our social and emotional learning to build that connection, individually or in groups so that they can gain those soft skills and be able to connect with an adult or in person.”

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