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God forbid if you can't reach Little Johnny!

I don't know how us Boomers made it through school without mummy and daddy having instant access to "our sorry ass".

If today's parents are too stupid to see the harm in social media on their progeny and won't join the "no phone" at school team...f-ck them. They deserve the messed up kids they'll end up with.

Did that sound a little harsh? Just kidding. I say let them do whatever the hell their little hearts desire.

Schools Want to Ban Phones. Parents Say No.

Students’ phone use is disruptive, but teachers and administrators seeking a fix face an unlikely opponent

By Julie Jargon, WSJ

April 20, 2024 9:00 am ET

A rural school district in Colorado tried to ban smartphones. Parents stood in the way.

Phones were at the center of more than half the schools’ disciplinary issues by 2022—not just kids watching TikTok and YouTube in class, but cyberbullying, spying in bathrooms and recording fights.

Teachers and administrators say gadget bans are the only way to regain student focus and tamp down on misbehavior. Parents complain that they need to be able to reach their kids at all times, both for emergencies and routine scheduling issues. Parents are turning out to be unexpected but forceful opponents of schools’ attempts to keep kids off their smartphones.

In Brush, Colo., teachers and administrators settled on a compromise for the 2022-23 school year. Students could keep their phones, provided they were out of sight. To reach their parents, they needed a teacher’s permission and had to use the phone in the office. If a student was busted, the phone was confiscated and a parent needed to pick it up.

The policy, which is still in effect, was too much for some parents, says Brush School District superintendent Bill Wilson. Several parents transferred their students.

Administrators say they are trying to do what’s best for students. Experts often blame smartphones for fueling the youth mental-health crisis, through social media and its most angst-amplifying features. Teachers say they spend too much time policing phone use. And even school systems that are so far reluctant to ban phones know the fights are just beginning.

‘A disconnect with parents’

About a quarter of notifications hitting teens’ phones daily come during school hours, according to a recent Common Sense Media report. Teens use smartphones for a median of 43 minutes during the school day, said the report, the primary time-suck being social-media and messaging apps.

Parents are often the ones texting their kids, teachers say.

“There seems to be a disconnect with parents,” says Liz Shulman, an English teacher at Evanston Township High School in Illinois, where phones are expected to be put away during class. “They often sound very supportive of cellphone policies and they want their kids to learn, but they also want access to them at all times.”

Dozens of parents told me they support school cellphone bans.

But in a recent poll from the nonprofit National Parents Union, most parents who supported banning phones in class said they should be allowed at other times, such as passing periods, lunch and recess.

“Parents want a direct line to their kids during the school day,” says Ariel Taylor Smith, senior director of policy and action for the National Parents Union.

She, too, likes being able to reach her 8-year-old son by phone during the school day. “We should be teaching students how to use cellphones responsibly, not banning them,” says Taylor Smith, a former high-school teacher.

School shootings have raised parents’ anxiety. As a mother of three, I’m certainly as worried as any other parent about school violence. School-safety experts say that using phones during an emergency can endanger kids. Ringing or buzzing phones can give away the location of a kid who is trying to hide from an intruder, and parents on the line can distract students from following lifesaving instructions from school personnel.

Day to day, parents are mostly texting kids things that can wait til the dismissal bell, teachers tell me—practice reminders, pickup changes and other such minutiae.

Students comprehend more and have less anxiety when phones aren’t present, some studies show. A Massachusetts boarding school I wrote about found that students became more engaged in class after it banned smartphones.

Even the partial ban at the Brush school district in Colorado last year was effective: Visits to the principal’s office fell sharply among high-schoolers compared with the year before, Wilson says.

Normalizing no phones

Mark Daniel, superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools in Indiana, told parents earlier this year that the district would test a cellphone ban, to run through the end of the school year.

The district began locking up students’ phones at two middle schools and two high schools in mid-March. The exercise would help determine whether discipline and classroom engagement improved in the absence of phones.

Most parents have been supportive, he says, although outliers have been vocal. One student’s parents said they would transfer their child to another district, while others said they wouldn’t comply, Daniel says.

“My job is a no-win job. You never please everyone,” he says. “It’s about what’s best for kids, and we think there are strong mental-health ramifications from this phone dependency.”

Many school districts are using Yondr pouches, which lock up students’ phones during the day.

The test schools have students lock phones in pouches from a company called Yondr, which also provides pouches for entertainment venues. Students can carry their pouched phones throughout the day, unlocking the bag when they leave. Some students have tried to rip into the pouches, but most have been compliant, Daniel says. “We’re now seeing students having conversations in the hallways and at lunch.”

The Fort Wayne school district is also among the nearly 200 districts across the country suing social-media companies, including Meta Platforms, Snap and TikTok. The districts allege that the apps are harmful to kids.

Do you think students should have phones in school? Join the conversation below.

“If we win that suit, we’ll fund these pouches with it,” Daniel says.

His district, Indiana’s largest, currently uses voter-approved funds to pay for the pouch test. If it proves that stowing phones for the day curbs behavioral problems and classroom distractions, the total upfront bill for Yondr pouches in Fort Wayne’s five high schools and 11 middle schools will be about $400,000.

Daniel says his goal is to normalize a phone-free school day.

“If we create a habit that starts in sixth grade,” he says, “maybe in five years we won’t even need the pouches.”

—For more WSJ Technology analysis, reviews, advice and headlines, sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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