OPINION: Phone policy harms students’ safety and convenience

West Essex’s new cell phone has little beneficial value and only puts more stress upon students. On paper, it sounds great from an administrative perspective: help students get the most of everything they are learning. However, in practice, the phone policy is ineffective, harmful to students’ learning and causes lack of communication between kids and parents.

From a safety standpoint, students said they and their parents find the policy unhelpful and worrying, because if there is a lockdown or fire drill, parents will be potentially delayed getting in touch with their children. This risk worries both parents and students. 

“I feel it’s very unnecessary and not needed,” sophomore Eva Gargiulo said.

“It puts you at a risk in communication with your parents,”  sophomore Ashley Brindley said.

Beyond safety, however, other problems chip away at the school’s aims for limiting student cell phone use. Many students only go on their phone after all their work is complete or lessons have  ended. This is now spare time left in class that they waste, when they could be checking sports reminders, parents’ texts or other harmless but potentially productive uses of their phones.

Athletic and extracurricular contact is another major argument against limited students’ phone access. Coaches routinely send reminders and ask questions about scheduling, times, game cancellations and more during the school day. Due to the phone policy, bad Wi-fi the and rush in between classes, many students aren’t able to become aware of these things until the end of the school day. Unfortunately, many students only receive these emails through their phone and not their Chromebook since a phone number is required. 

“I got a notification on Remind, and Remind doesn’t go to my Chromebook, so I didn’t know I got the notification that practice was canceled and I didn’t have a ride home, so I was stuck at the school,” Gariulo said.

This puts pressure on students and parents, who then have to figure out rides and appointments in a miniscule amount of time. This causes a lack of communication between kids, parents and even coaches and therefore even more stress upon students.

“You get notifications throughout the day and it’s hard to see if a time of a practice gets changed,” Brindley said.

It is understandable that some staff and parents believe this policy has some benefits, since it forces kids to focus and not be distracted by every intriguing notification that brightens their phone screens.

“I think they are more concentrated in class,” Italian teacher Christina Pivetta said about the new phone policy for this year.

But the negative impacts of this policy surpass the beneficial value, causing more stress to parents and students. The move has good aims, but ultimately it just puts more unnecessary pressure on students.

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