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(41,103 posts)
Wed Jan 31, 2024, 01:23 PM Jan 31

What Happens When A School Bans Smartphones - A Complete Transformation [View all]

- Teachers say mobile phones make their lives a living hell – so one Massachusetts school barred them, The Guardian, Jan. 17, 2024.

When the weather is nice, the Buxton boarding school moves lunch outside. Students, faculty and guests grab their food from the kitchen, and eat together under a white tent that overlooks western Massachusetts’ Berkshire mountains. As the close of the school year neared last June, talk turned to final assignments (the English class was finishing Moby-Dick) and end-of-year fun (there was a trip planned to a local lake). It was, in most ways, a typical teenage afternoon – except that no one was on their phones.

Buxton was wrapping up the first year of a simple yet novel experiment: banning cellphones on campus. Or, rather, smartphones.

Instead, the school gave everyone on campus – including staff – a Light Phone, that is, a “dumb” phone with limited functionality. The devices can make calls, send texts (slowly) and can’t load modern applications; instead coming with deliberately cumbersome versions of music and mapping apps. They are about the size of a deck of cards, with black and white screens. As one student put it: “It’s like the demon baby of an iPad and a Kindle.” Most everyone agrees, however, that the school is better off without these hell devices. (And yes, that includes students.)

There are fewer interruptions during class, more meaningful interactions around campus, and less time spent on screens. “It’s a problem we’ve found a pretty good way to address,” Scott Hunter, who teaches English and music, said of smartphones. Bea Sas, a senior at Buxton, added: “I think people are a lot more social.” For many teachers, their students’ phone use is exasperating. “It’s every class, every period,” said Mark McLaughlin, a math teacher at a high school in Oregon. “The worst part of my job is being the cellphone police.”

Educators across the country report waging a near-constant battle against phones.

A survey of a school district in Va. found that about a third of teachers were telling students to put away their cellphones five to 10 times a class, and 14.7% did so more than 20 times a class. When a middle school in Canada surveyed staff, 75% of respondents thought that cellphones were negatively affecting their students’ physical and mental health. Nearly 2/3rds believed the devices were adversely affecting academic performances as well. “It’s a big issue,” said Arnold Glass, prof. of psychology at Rutgers Univ., “They lose anywhere between a half and whole letter grade if they are allowed to consult their phones in class.”... - More,

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