Opinion on the NCDS Phone Policy

Kelly Cloonan

In April 2016, a newspaper member wrote an article detailing the unfairness of our school’s phone policy. Four years later, phones are still not allowed during the school day, but there is no longer a $10 charge to get your phone back after getting it taken away.

Honestly, I am pretty divided on the phone controversy. In some ways, I can see why our school bans phones; phones can be a distraction during the school day, and can prevent students from working on homework during free periods. However, many students feel that phones should be allowed during the school day, for several reasons. 

Some argue that students who would be distracted by their phones are already distracted during frees, since computers have similar capabilities to phones. Like phones, computers allow texting, social media use, and Netflix. Thus, if students had their phones, they would probably still be distracted during frees, but instead of binge-watching Netflix they may make Tik-Toks or use Snapchat, which are not available on most computers. Therefore, allowing phones won’t cause more distractions, but will just cause different ones than students face now.

Further, it can be argued that students should learn how to control and eliminate the distractions presented by their phones while they are still in highschool. College is sure to offer more freedom than highschool, since there is limited adult supervision and less strict (or no) rules regarding phones. Therefore, if students can learn to turn their phones off and not use them now, they will be better prepared for the freedom they will encounter in college.

Several students have also raised the point that phones can promote safety at school. During ALICE training a few years ago, I distinctly remember students arguing that, on the very small chance that there was an armed intruder in our school, phones would allow for fast and efficient communication among students. While it can be scary to think about, this argument is valid. We are supposed to have our phones turned off and in our backpacks, but phones that are completely powered-off can take a long time to turn back on, which could be valuable time lost during an emergency.

With all this said, our school’s phone policy honestly doesn’t bother me all that much. I understand why many students feel that phones should be allowed, but I don’t see too many reasons to change it, especially if we can institute a good communication system to be used during emergencies so that phones won’t be necessary. However, I do have one major problem with the phone policy: the way that it is enforced. It’s no secret that there are varying levels of teacher enforcement of the phone ban, and this creates a feeling of unfairness for students who get their devices confiscated. Many teachers turn a blind eye to phone use, and I don’t blame them; they don’t want to be seen as an enemy of the students. However, there are also teachers who will quite literally march right into a classroom or the library to take away phones, which can be an embarrassing experience for students. There are also teachers who fall somewhere in the middle, who discourage students from using their phones but don’t confiscate them. With different levels of enforcement, it can be difficult to understand what our school’s phone policy really is. Therefore, students who get their phones confiscated usually feel like they have received unfair treatment, since there are dozens of other students who get away with using their phones several times a week and don’t get caught.

With our policy’s seemingly random enforcement, I think it is time for a change. Despite listing the arguments for why phones should be allowed at school, I don’t think that we should transition to a policy allowing all phone usage. I propose that our policy adopt more regular enforcement, so that teachers are on the same page and students know what to expect, thereby preventing feelings of unfairness. I hope that in addition to instituting a fairer enforcement of the phone policy, our school’s administration will continue to provide us with opportunities to create connections with our classmates sans technology.