Is the cell phone policy empowering or dispiriting?

Delaney O'Sullivan, Staff Writer

Plainfield South’s cellphone policy states:
“Cell phones, tablets, or any wearable technology may only be used during non-instructional time such as lunch time and passing periods.”
Before I get started, it is important to address why we are at school in the first place: to learn. Cell phones are a huge distraction and can easily prevent students from paying attention and absorbing the information they need to succeed. It can also be very frustrating to teachers who work diligently on their lesson plans because students show no interest or respect in the lesson. Instead, they spend the period staring at their phones.
Some teachers have phone policies unique to their classroom. I have teachers who are very lenient when it comes to the use of cellular devices. Likewise, I have teachers who govern their classroom like a dictatorship. I have teachers who require students to place their phones in pockets right when they enter the class, and the phones cannot be touched without the teacher’s permission.
How did we end up in this type of environment? We are young adults and are constantly told by our teachers that we are in charge of our education. We are old enough and mature enough to make our own decisions and choose how we want to live our lives. If a student decides they would rather scroll through Instagram for an entire period, then that will reflect poorly on their grades, but they choose to do so.
The lack of freedom students are given when it comes to phone usage is frustrating and when students are unable to use their phones. The idea of not using their phone makes them want to even more and to be frank, it would probably be better if the student body could distract themselves on their phones instead of getting bored in class and distracting others by talking. If we had the choice, many students would be better off, especially those who want to excel and learn the material.
A common concern for students is safety. Without our phones on our person, “what if?’ questions flood our minds. What if we have a shooting? What if a student has an allergic reaction? What if our lives are in danger? What if we can’t contact our parents in an emergency because our cellphones are in the front of the room in the pocket like the teacher instructed us to?
Teachers and administration would argue that the teacher can call from the classroom in case of an emergency. But texting on cell phones is much faster and more efficient as opposed to a teacher calling the office and then the office calling whoever’s assistance is needed. So why not use cell phones? It is much easier especially if a parent needs to be contacted.
There are no laws forbidding the school from taking phones away from minors, but teachers should be mindful of their student’s situation. For example, students with medical conditions such as diabetes typically store their blood sugar information on their cellphone. Without having their phone with them, they are unable to monitor their symptoms. Empower us with the ability to make decisions: allow us to use our phones when reasonably needed.