OPINION: Phone Policy


Desiree Fasulo

Phone caddies not the answer for many students

OPINION: Phone Policy

By Desiree Fasulo and Ashlynn Tata

Phones. A huge topic admin seems to care so much about, and for what? They say it’s for the betterment of our school. They say it’s scientifically proven to be better. They never seem to think about the students they teach, and they never asked for our opinion or how we felt, they just did it and expected no conflict or distrust. 

According to an article written by Oxford Learning in 2019 it states, “If properly managed, cell phones can be used as tools to help children learn in the classroom.” I am a straight-A student, no disciplinary issues, and stay focused in class when I need to. Why should I be punished? 

Administration says that it’s not supposed to be a punishment, but if that is true, then let me ask you this, what do your parents take when you get in trouble? Your phone. Them taking our phones makes us believe we can’t be trusted now, or later in life, with decisions we need to make.  The school says that they aren’t taking your phone, that you’re just placing it in a caddy, but if it’s not on me and I’m not allowed to have it, then it’s taken. If a kid is on their phone 24/7, and as a result, their grades are dropping, then they should be dealt with separately. Teachers talk about “being fair”, and that they can’t take away one kid’s phone, so they take away everyone, but in reality, life is not fair. 

We should also talk about school emergencies and safety. We don’t have many emergencies in Ashburnham, Mass, but we did have one recently, at the beginning of the school year. Imagine walking down a hallway or being in the bathroom by yourself, and suddenly, you hear an announcement over the intercom about going into a lockdown, and you can’t make it into a classroom in time. Think about how terrifying it would be, never mind the fact that you can’t communicate with anyone. No one knows where you are, and you have no way to get in contact with anyone, including emergency services. You are just expected to figure it out all on your own, and not even grown adults can do that 90% of the time.  If it ever comes to a point where a legal guardian cant reach their kid in an emergency, it’s only going to cause even more issues for admin.  

Most teachers are going to agree with the rule of taking phones. Of course, they are, because they grew up in a time where they had to look up a number in a phone book and dial it, or in the time of early cell phones. They haven’t grown up in the new world with cell phones as advanced as ours, they think that because it was easy for them, and that’s how they grew up, that’s how we should act, and that’s how we should grow up. They didn’t go through crucial school years during a pandemic where the main way of communication was phones. They don’t understand how it affected us. They may hear about it from us, but they don’t feel it. 

Adults don’t seem to understand how much the world around them is changing. Things aren’t the same as when they were kids. The whole “Back when I was your age…” speech doesn’t teach us anything, it just shows how different things were back then, and honestly, it irritates us.  Things are different. The world is changing. We have more resources now, and this is how we are going to grow up. Instead of trying to keep us from technology, they should be teaching us how to moderate our usage, because it’s not going away. It’s going to be there for the rest of our lives, and it’s going to end up being in every aspect of our lives. 

Many students I have talked to about this matter have all stated in some way “ I don’t know why we can’t just put it in our bags” and “Punishing us by taking our phones won’t gain our trust or respect”. I have also heard from students that they tend to be more anxious and focus less on their work, seeing their phone up in a caddy staring at them, not being able to have it on them or in their backpacks.

Numerous students have stated that they do not feel comfortable not having their phones in their possession. That’s the STUDENTS’ opinion. The students that actually go to Oakmont, the students’ admin should be focused on – not random statistics from random schools in different states. They are different kids, different schools. If it has to do with students feeling safe and comfortable in their own school, maybe the admin should listen to them. 

Every classroom is different with different groups of students and ways of teaching. If most kids have done nothing wrong and they are being punished, how will they think the world works in the future? It’s like if someone does something wrong at the job and every employee gets fired for it. That’s not life. But that’s what we are learning.

One teacher, Mr. Caouette, said that he thinks that compliance with the phone policy went smoother than he thought it would, and he thinks that the administration believed it was best for the student body at the current time, but he worries that this is taking personal responsibility from students in the real world, and making it harder for them to regulate their phone usage by themselves. 

Another teacher, Ms. Bergin, said that she thinks that it is good to get kids away from their device addictions. She worries that phones are becoming a threat to the mental health of students. She also worries that there are issues about it becoming like a safety blanket for kids. She said that the phone policy is in some ways helpful for students to disconnect. She says she does think it is preparing students for the future. In the classroom, there is a safety net for kids. Mistakes can be made. In the real world, especially corporate, you are replaceable as an employee–there is a line out the door for your job. She believes if students are able to put the phones aside now and get used to that, she thinks it will serve them in the future. 

I understand what she is saying, and honestly, I think we all are working toward the same end goal, but the way the school is going about it isn’t actually helping. 

An article published by Family Education states, “As the Head of School, I have felt that learning to appropriately engage with a cell phone is an important life skill. Therefore we have a policy that students will lose classroom points if they use their cell phones during lectures and note-taking time, but we do NOT ban cell phones entirely. The point behind this policy was to give students an arena to practice self-control regarding phone usage so that they might develop those skills before adulthood.” That seems like a smart lesson to give high school students. It will teach us to keep our phones away and gives us motivation too. Things like “ I won’t take my phone out. I don’t want to distract myself, and I want to get a 100% on this assignment” will run through our heads, and that’s independent motivation to keep them away when we need to. This is one alternative method that isn’t punishing the entire school but still keeping tabs on cellphone usage.

After the school Town Hall meeting that took place in school on 12/21/22, many students stated that none of the phone concerns were even listened to, they seemed to be shut down. Again, Oakmont advocates for students to speak out about their concerns. The one place we had a chance to voice concerns, the biggest concern was shut down and we were “not allowed”  to ask any more questions regarding it. That made the student body feel helpless and not listened to in their school.

One student said the current phone policy has some benefits but in some ways sometimes a student needs their phones for learning purposes as well. For example, if someone wants to listen to music, they should be allowed to. She did say that she thinks it has helped her in some ways, as she used to procrastinate more when she was on her phone. 

The school always talks about how everything they are doing is preparing us for the real world, but she believes that this policy is not really doing so, because restricting a child from doing something is going to make them do the exact opposite in the long run. She believes that the phone policy we currently have in place is just a restriction, not a lesson. Everyone will go back to their phones once they’re out of the class.

Another student said that they absolutely hate the phone policy. He said that the phone policy we have in place has not helped him at all, as having his phone on him never had a negative impact on his learning or school work in the past.  It’s not preparing us at all, it’s babying us. He believes the only thing the phone policy is teaching him is that we aren’t respected as students to be responsible with our own phones.

One last student, Daleon Fashaw, said the phone policy just isn’t good. He feels having his phone taken hasn’t effectively changed anything. It hasn’t helped him in any way, and he feels it’s pointless. He thinks that this is not at all preparing us for the real world and that it’s just one of the many things that are doing nothing for us. For example, we don’t learn taxes, or money management either. He said he doesn’t believe the phone policy teaches us anything, seeing as how the world is more tech-savvy, and how most people are on their phones now.

Taking everything into account, I believe that the administration hoped it would be helpful to students, but all it’s done is cause some students to be unhappy, and on their phones more now, whenever they get the chance.