Nueva should limit phone usage to lunch time only

Oct 13, 2019 | Opinion

A t approximately 3:21 p.m. on every weekday, the City of San Mateo sees a sudden boost in internet activity as the nearly 2000 students and faculty from San Mateo High School (SMHS) file out of their classes and reunite with their phones. Starting in the 2019 school year, SMHS implemented a no-phones policy in response to the surge in phone usage, specifically for the exorbitant use of social media.

Nueva’s tenth grade has had several discussions about the use of phones at school in response to incidents where phones were involved with cheating. While phones play an important role now ingrained into our culture, they inhibit the ability of students to learn as cheating and distractions occur.

As the school initiates conversations around regulating phone usage, I think it should consider the benefits phones have in a learning environment.

It is a common misconception that students are using their phones for social media or taking pictures but I frequently use my device to check my schedule, look up an unknown word, or check my email for school-related notifications. 

It is not just students who benefit from having their phones on hand. Many parents rely on their children’s phones for communicating who is on pickup duty after soccer practice or when to drop off the forgotten violin. In addition, phones can prove to be critical if an emergency occurs at home during the hours students are at school. 

 Introverted students and those who might enter an uncomfortable situation also depend on their phones as a source of comfort and support. By allowing students to use their phones throughout school, it caters to these social groups and those who seek more benefits from digital work. 

I would love to see the school try tech-free days as students and see how this reduces anxiety and corrodes these distractions as well as the need to use phones. It would definitely be interesting to dip our toes into experimenting with this analog dialogue.

Arta Khakpour

History Teacher

Previously, phones were often a subject ignored because we are immersed in a trusting culture where students enjoy learning and use their phones not because they are bored, but rather for entertainment or communication. While at the Middle School students are restricted from using their phones during school hours and must find a landline in order to make a call, in the Upper School there are no limitations on phone use. 

Conversely, history teacher Arta Khakpour says that technology can be a “weakness” during class as the internet is an incredible source of information and distractions and can make it hard for students to focus. Khakpour has implemented a generally technology-free policy in his classroom (with some exceptions) and notes that he has seen “greater benefits.” He believes the school would see advantages from experimenting with tech-free days or going on a “tech-fast.”

While Khakpour is generally opposed to technology in the classroom, he supports students having the right to use their phone during school for certain types of people and emergencies. 

Likewise, Davis Turner ‘22 believes phones should be allowed as long as they don’t take away from the learning experience or are used for cheating. Turner expresses how it is “comforting” to have his phone with him, and critical if something like an emergency is to occur. 

On the contrary, he believes text messages or WhatsApp notifications can be extremely distracting, and having your phone during a quiz/test can be detrimental to one’s work performance. Turner feels there should be stronger repercussions for cheating that involves removing a student’s phone privileges or affecting their grade/template. He also stresses that teachers should closely monitor phones because people can often not restrain themselves and exploit their privileges. 

“We need to establish a precedent that will encourage students to not use their phones as much so then students will not abuse the rules,” Turner said. 

Nueva is built on the foundation of trust between students and I emphasize the importance of phones mainly for the use of Kahoots or surveys during assemblies/meetings and as a method of taking pictures on school trips

Hillary Freeman

Dean of Student Life

Turner supports his fellow students in having their phones but hopes to see a reduction in phone usage during class and for dishonest reasons. I also believe that this would be beneficial for the school environment. 

To prevent further cheating epidemics and frequent distractions, I believe students should only be permitted to use their phones during lunch time and after school, with few exceptions. 

Similarly, I hope our school can find a balance between a certain amount of phone usage that is not disruptive or distracting and times without the need for technology. I often take the autonomy we are given with our phones for granted and am blind to the privileges we have. I hope that students can recognize the advantages and disadvantages to this controversial topic and understand the decisions and reasoning for phone usage at school.