BL Spotlight

BL’s New Plan For Phones In the Classroom Draws Support And Criticism

Cellular devices have become a big topic conversation over the past several years.  According to a 2017 study done by the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of teens ages 13-17 worry that they use their phones too much.  You’ve seen them, walking around campus with their heads down, staring into their screens. Maybe you’re one of them. The fact is, there are students across the country and at BL who are addicted to their phones and can never put them down. In response, the upper school implemented a new policy at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year: every teacher has phone pouches in their room and students have to store their phones there during class.

Upper School English Teacher Mr. Freihofer supports the policy. He believes it is a start to fix a phone problem he believes students have.

“It gives students a proactive way of putting their phones in a different space,” he said.

He says he’s a dinosaur when it comes to phones, but he’s unapologetic about it. Mr. Freihofer is upset that students take the time to talk to their peers for granted.

“When I pass a student in the hall and his head is down looking at a screen and he’s obviating a chance for a hello or an exchange, I feel sad,” said Freihofer.

In a 2017 study by the Pew Research Center, 12 percent of all students said that they were allowed to have their phones on them at all times in school. The same study also said that teens who are addicted to their phones are more likely to have mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. However, a 2018 study also done by the Pew Research Center found that when young people had to give up their phones, they performed mental tasks worse because they were in withdrawal.  

Senior, Alex Lee, is not in support of the new phone policy. He doesn’t find it to be effective in the right way.

“I find it unnecessary to put my phone in the pouch if I’m not going to use my phone during class anyway”, said Lee. In fact, he feels that it is more tempting for him to want to use his phone while it’s in the pouch because he can see it. “There’s really no way to stop [phone use]”, he said.

Lee believes it just depends on the teacher and class on whether or not the teacher wants them to put their phones into the pouch. And, according to some upper school students, a number of teachers do not enforce the phone pouch policy while other teachers do, making it inconsistent.

The new phone policy has been in place since the beginning of this school year and it is hard to tell if the new policy changes will be effective or not. Mr. Freihofer does not think that the new policy is the end to all solutions and believes that more can still be done.

“I think it’s been a good intermediate step, maybe it’s a part of a step that we’ll do later, maybe it’s a trend,” he said.