Device disconnection encourages real connections

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Device disconnection encourages real connections

Sloka Suresh

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 Walking through the halls of campus, it is not unusual to see students with phones in hand. For many, time with cell phones offer a needed break from academics, a chance to unwind and relax. However, as students embrace the digital age, cell phones have become an unwanted distraction, one that detracts from classroom interactions and student learning. 

As the number of students with cell phones reaches an all time high, Lynbrook is just one of many schools that have fallen victim to the epidemic. A recent study, conducted by the Taylor and Francis Group, found that 95 percent of students bring cellphones to school, with 92 percent admitting to using them during class. Although the spike in cell phone use is a concern for school administrators, many students do not believe that the issue manifests in the same way for everyone.

At the same time, it is important to consider the negative implications that accompany cell phone use. Inside the classroom, alarms, phone calls and text messages can disrupt lessons and hinder concentration in class. Furthermore, cheating has become increasingly prevalent as students use messaging apps to send answers to a test or take photos of confidential material. 

“I got tired of trying to find cell phones that students were using during class,” said English teacher Connie Willson. “It got to the point where anytime we’d be in a group, three out of the four kids would be on their cell phones”.

 As more cell phones are used as tools of distraction, many schools have resorted to banning them altogether. On August 19th, San Mateo High School became the largest public school to institute a schoolwide lockdown of cell phones. Using a magnetic locking device called the Yondr pouch, the school stored students’ phones at the beginning of each school day until the final bell. The results were immediate. Despite initial resistance, both students and staff saw an increase in social interactions within a week of the program’s implementation.

“Everyone else was socializing and eating lunch together, that’s what I wasn’t seeing enough of when phone usage is at its worst,” said Brad Frieman, a drama teacher at San Mateo High School.

In Lynbrook classrooms, teachers have also found cell phone pouches, low-tech versions of the Yondr pouch, to be an effective method to restrict cell phones without completely banning them. Cell phone pouches are cubbies where students place their phones at the beginning of class and retrieve them when the period ends. 

 “I think that [phone pouches] are a good policy, especially when doing a really important assignment, a discussion or a project that we’re working on as a group,” said senior Riddhi Somani.

Although a schoolwide ban may seem like a drastic approach to deal with the increasing number of cellphones at Lynbrook, it definitely puts the need for limitations on devices into perspective. Disconnecting from cellphones is the first step toward creating a more positive school environment where students are more engaged in their learning.