Phones are part of everyday life, but during school there is a need for restrictions and regulations when it comes to phone use. The Student and Parent Handbook made by the Weber administration states, “Although cell phones allow for almost instant access to a variety of information, they are, for the most part, a huge disruption and distraction to the learning environment.” This year, some students have voiced their concern regarding rules that further limit the use of personal phones at school, despite there being no new rules. Although phone use isn’t any different than last year, Michael Bennett, Dean of 9th and 10th Grades, has “found that students use social media for many purposes, some of which are problematic. One way we can deal with this is to limit the use of phones during the school day.” Last year, a basket or shoe rack was purchased for every classroom to hold a student’s phone. The handbook declares that at the beginning of each class, “cell phones should be turned off and placed in the classroom collection basket for the entirety of each class block (including class break time).” However, cell phones are not explicitly banned. Students are allowed to use their phones between classes, during lunch, and before and after school. If a student is caught with his, her, or their phone on them during class time, their phone is given to their Grade Dean until the end of the day. Although the policies on phone use haven’t changed, some students’ attitudes have changed due to thinking the policies are new.
There are some obvious reasons as to why the administration believes they need to enforce the policy about phone usage. Literature teacher, Holly Chesser, believes that, “just hearing a beep or feeling the vibration on a phone will make a student want to look at what they just received, but by putting a phone in a basket, the students will not have that temptation.” By putting their phone in a basket, the student can focus more on their assignment and less on their social life. Allowing phones in the classroom may also be disruptive to other students. When phones are not on silent, or shut down, they can beep or vibrate and disrupt class. With technology advancing, phones can now recognize a voice and respond to it, which will disrupt a whole class. But even with these reasons, the students still wonder why they aren’t allowed to use phones during a break. Sophomore Matt Winston claims that it doesn’t bother him that he has to put his phone in a basket in each class, but he doesn’t “understand why we aren’t allowed to use our phones on a break.” He exclaimed, “It’s a break! We are supposed to spend that time not focused on class.” Two members of Weber’s administration had an answer to this. Rise Arkin, Director of Administrations, stated, “One of the things that makes Weber so special is that we encourage interactions between students of all ages and teachers. If a student is on their phone during a break, the screen discourages them to interact with their peers.” The Dean of the English Department, Sam Bradford, claims that he has had “some of the deepest conversations with students” that he would not have had if phones were allowed on breaks; therefore, he agrees on the policy. Weber’s goal to foster the community revolves around wanting school to be a time for students to connect with their peers and teachers without the use of a screen. If phones were allowed on breaks, students would be focused more on the screen than on the people around them.
Another topic that makes students wonder why phones aren’t allowed is because a computer is necessary and sometimes required in multiple classes. When asking Rise Arkin what she thought about computers, she responded that computers can also be distracting, but they are less distracting than phones because it is harder to use social media and Google when you are doing an activity. Mrs. Arkin concluded that computers “are the lesser of two evils.” Sam Bradford claims that he doesn’t like computers during classes and rarely uses them because even if the students are paying attention, the screen still acts as a barrier between communication. Another concern is that students will be distracted by text messages on their phone. In reality, it is just as easy to text on your computer with Messages, GroupMe, or even Gmail. Besides texting, computers can be used to take notes, play games, and use social media all at once. The use of multiple tabs can make it easy for a students to hide anything other than classwork, that they may be doing. Some teachers may notice this and give a student a warning or make them close their computer, but some students are able to get away with it.
However, the use of phones in a classroom can make a student more responsible; by using phones, students can build trust with their teachers by following a lesson despite the distraction. One of the most problematic times where phones become an issue is during Kehillah. Kehillah is a time where students gather to hear from speakers and members of the community: it is not a free time for students to be on electronics. If caught, their phone will be commandeered immediately. Michael Bennett expressed that Kehillah is when he collects the most phones. Mr. Bennett mentioned that he can “get anywhere from ten to twelve phones on a Kehillah day.” Yet, he claims that he rarely confiscates phones during the day, unless a phone goes off during a test.
Students aren’t always going to agree with rules made by the faculty, but it’s important that they abide by the policies that have been set in place. The faculty wants students to be responsible when it comes to technology and remember that Weber isn’t just a social place, it’s a school too.