School Ban Phones?

A mom asks whether schools should ban smartphones during the school day….

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My pre-teen asked me to write you. In her new school, she is required to leave her phone in her backpack, and not bring it into the classroom. The backpack has to be left in the hallway or in a locker. My daughter says this is not fair. What do you think? M.Casee, Bolinas

Dear M. Casee: Here we are in late August, and your daughter raises the vital back-to-school issue. There is no standard or right- and-wrong here. It’s at the discretion of the school.

Some countries, like France, Australia, and Israel institute bans during school, but other countries, like Japan, have rescinded the suspension. In the U.S., some school district use Yondr bags. There are compelling reasons to ban smartphones in the classroom: studies find that students who use them do not score as well on standardized tests; they are distracting during classroom lessons; and students can use them after class to post off-color pictures, sometimes bullying ones, from the gym, lunchroom, etc.

That said, there are also positive reasons to allow smartphones in the schools. The primary one is that smartphones are the new tool, and students need to be educated on how to use operate them intelligently and mindfully. In previous posts, I have called for provisional phones… schools, libraries, and parents must provide “beginner’s lessons.” It will take a few more years. Currently, only a few teachers have developed a curriculum that use the phone as an educational tool- for example, civics classes that explore the nature of pro and con sentiments.

None of this will resolve your daughter’s cry that it’s not fair, but you need to remind her that principals and teachers set the rules… that’s the first lesson. As a parent, you should ask why she would need to have a phone out during school lessons. It is certainly not to reach you or her friends. And, to set a good example, maybe the teachers and school staff should be phone-free too.

So Lonely with Phone

Everyone is wrapped up in their phones…except me.

This photo is opaque black with a single point in the middle. It is titled, "The Stunning Loneliness of Megacities at Night." From Wired Magazine. April, 2019.
THE STUNNING LONELINESS OF MEGACITIES AT NIGHT.
Michael Hardy Photo. 4/16/19/ Wired Magazine.

Dear Ms. Smartphone: Whenever I’m out in public everybody around me is staring at their phones. This happens out in nature, in class, and anywhere people have the opportunity to open an app. When I don’t look at my phone and just think about things I feel like I’m the odd one out. Is there a way to quell this feeling? Will people ever change or only get worse? Benjamin, Cambridge

Dear Benjamin, There is no doubt that phones have changed our social relationships; in an earlier post I noted that we are closer to those who are further away, and farther from those close by. The other factor is that smartphones are the modern swiss-army knife. We use them to snap pictures, light up the dark, record voice memos, and count our footsteps.

Continue reading “So Lonely with Phone”

Lost Phone, Kids- It’s The Third Time…

If your kid loses phones over and over…do they need to have one?

A 1/2 gallon milk carton that has a message" Have you seen this lost phone?" It mimics the missing child messages on milk cartons. The images is from PC World
source: PC World

Dear Ms. Smartphone: My son, age twelve, just came home from day camp and when we checked his backpack, his phone was missing. This is the third time he has lost a phone this year. I like him to have a phone so that we can stay in touch, but this is getting ridiculous. What do you think I should do? Phoebe, Fairfax

Dear Phoebe: There are a couple of ways to approach this. You could text him every hour to remind him to guard his phone and turn on its GPS to track the location. But seriously, first ask, is he losing other things too, say hoodies and lunchboxes? If so, consider mindfulness training. Or, maybe, as this mom suggests, a smartphone is just too dear, and too much of a responsibility for many kids.

It’s expensive to keep replacing smartphones, so there are at least two alternatives: get your son a prepaid phone that comes with limited minutes, or have him wear a watch that just receives messages and texts.

But, before you consider either option, step back and consider why a twelve year old needs to carry a phone at all times. Did you know that kids are safer now in public than they have ever been? The rate of kidnappings, abductions, and other horrible things is infinitesimally small. As a parent, you should know where your twelve year old is at all times. Since it’s summer, and he’s at day camp, consider forgoing the phone, at least until school begins. That short abstinence might be a sufficient lesson to be less forgetful!