By Vikrant Sabharwal
Phones. A distraction like no other for students in schools everywhere.
They have always been a way for students to entertain themselves when they may feel bored or lack interest in their studies. As time has progressed and technological devices have advanced, the distraction of phones has become increasingly severe. The current trend of the distraction caused by phones is worrying teachers about students’ attention levels in the future.
Schools are finding new strategies to deal with the usage of phones. Schools in Boston are considering a system where students would lock their phones at the beginning of the day. This will enable them to avoid being distracted during class to aid their focus and help them perform better.
Mary Lyon High School in Brighton, Massachusetts, is in the process of implementing a system where students at the beginning of the school day come in, and take a pouch where they place their phones. The pouches, which contain digital sensors, will be locked by school administrators once the day starts. Students can store the pouches in their backpacks for the day.
This system has already been implemented in a few schools around the country, though it remains rare. In Massachusetts, it was first done by Chicopee High School. Students reacted to the new policy very differently. Some claimed it helped them be more focused and learn more. Others believed it was not the most effective because they found other distractions, by creating email channels with their friends to communicate through their computers.
A common impact among students was that it made them realize the extent to which they were dependent on their phones. Some realized this from the anxiety they developed from not having direct access to their phones. School administrators also appreciated the interactiveness of students when not using their phones.
"I've seen a huge difference just in the first week of school. I would walk into classrooms and the students were actually talking to each other,” High School Chief Academic Officer Ashley Jacobson.
The impacts of phones on academic performance extend beyond the time that students are in school, continuing to affect how they do homework. For this reason, it is also important that concerned parents of middle and early high schools take steps to regulate their child’s phone use while they are supposed to be doing homework.
This idea of using pouches to remove phones as a distraction from students is a novel one and one that can be considered for use at BISB. The school has prohibited students from using their phones during the school day, including in the classrooms, the hallways, and the lunchroom. Despite teachers telling students to put their phones away, the current policies are not easily enforceable as students can still find ways to discreetly use their phones. As this system becomes more widespread among schools in Massachusetts, BISB will be more likely to adopt it as well.
While losing access to their phones might initially be unpopular among students, they will eventually realize the long-term benefits of such a system.
"You learn a lot more about people when you're not just on your phone and I think it's really nice to just function as a human being," said Chicopee High School student Delany Meehan.