Should phone policy be discretionary to students?


Illustration by Anna Kelley

Carrie Sandler, Editor-In-Chief

Buzz. Ding. Ring. Those are all the common sounds of a notification that is emitted from a phone. And more often than not, those notifications are made frequently throughout the school day. Because of this, many teachers force students to put away their phones, whether it is a self-discipline in the pocket of a backpack, or potentially in a phone jail, a pouch at the front of the classroom. The angst can build up quickly, with students hearing these buzzes and thinking “Will they understand if I don’t get back to them on time?” or “What am I missing?” While these are simple thoughts without much meaning, there can be others that carry much more significance such as “What if my parents text me about an important issue?” 

In these instances specifically, having access to the phone can be crucial because of these kinds of potential messages that hold importance beyond one’s social life. What if someone needs to be accessed immediately 

because of a family emergency? They would never be able to act quickly if their phone was taken from them, invoking potential problems that would arise outside of school. This brings the questioning of teachers’ rights to take away students’ phones when in some cases not having them causes more harm than having access. So, is it really worth it to take a student’s phone away?

Giving the benefit of the doubt, the majority of teachers take away phones so they can hold attention fro

m all students for their lesson, which is a perfectly valid reason. However, there are some flaws with this philosophy, as some students will still not hold focus even without the distraction of the phone due to other factors such as time of day, hours of sleep from the previous night, or amount of stress occurring in one’s life. Therefore, it is risky to assume that taking away a phone will increase focus on a topic. Another reason for keeping phones is that they teach self-discipline. If anything, teachers should allow more freedom for students to be on their phones because it is more on them to decide how willing they are to pay attention in class and show how much they care about the lesson. Can this strategy be annoying? Absolutely. Having students be on their phones when teaching a lesson can be excruciating and disrespectful to that teacher. However, if a student does this, their grades will reflect it, leaving room for them to make the self-disciplinary decision about their attentiveness going forward. Additionally, in college, teachers do not take action to take away students’ phones, and leave it solely on their self-discipline to pay attention, or even go farther to show up to class. So why would having these regulations be beneficial when they are not implemented in the long-run, and the idea of self-discipline is more encouraged?

Phone use at school has been limited for various, valid reasons. However, The Talon believes that getting rid of phone regulations at school would be in the best interest for students because it allows them to utilize self-discipline, a skill they will need for the rest of their life.