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Editorial: Dear Teachers: free the phones!

Editorial%3A+Dear+Teachers%3A+free+the+phones%21
Alice Wang

Each new school year is often met with new and forgettable policy changes. But not this year: some of Central’s policies have taken a drastic turn.

No phones.

They’re two words we all loathe to hear in the same sentence. Now, we hear it every day.

Central’s new policy regarding cell phones states that all phones and earbuds must be put away during classes. Some teachers are turning to “phone jail” to enforce this new change, becoming wardens of a new type of prison. Phone jails are pouches on the wall or a cabinet where students have to put their phones. Each pouch has a different number, usually corresponding to each student in class.

The reason for this new, stricter policy is to get students to stay present in class both academically and socially. This new initiative for being present in class comes from the new (Be)3 introduced to us at the beginning of the year in a SOAR video. Without phones, the thinking is, we would be more encouraged to talk to others and pay attention in class.

The Central Times Editorial Board believes the overall phone policy is a good change, as it promotes community and student focus in class. However, we don’t believe phone jails provide any more benefits to a student’s concentration than putting the phone away in their backpacks would.

In fact, phone jails often cause more distractions than they warrant.

Most of the time, the phone jail is in front of students in plain view. In a world where everyone is addicted to their devices, being able to see but not interact with a phone can be extremely distracting for a student, meaning that keeping a phone in sight but just out of reach creates more distraction, not less.

It seems as though this is also one of the issues the administration was trying to avoid when making this new policy. Clearly, a phone just sitting on our desk is too great a temptation. But phone jails just don’t end the distractions.

One of the most annoying aspects of phone jails is the constant buzzing and chiming from imprisoned phones that a class has to endure. Normally, if someone’s phone goes off in class, they would be able to discreetly silence their device. Now, the only way to stop the noise is by enduring the walk of shame in front of the whole class to address it.

It’s also difficult to tell whose phone is the one buzzing in the phone jail in the first place, because they are all hanging in the same place. The only way to figure it out would be to individually take out each phone and look to see who’s getting the notifications, and this would only cause more of a disruption to a learning environment.

And yet, the scariest part of these phone jail is the unnecessary risk.

There is no doubt most students have thought about what happens if their phone breaks while in phone jail. Knowing your phone is essentially in the possession of someone else is terrifying because of the possibility the device could break, especially when putting the device into your backpack would be just as, if not more, effective with little to no risk.

Backpacks provide a space for us to store our phones with little to no distraction. In the backpack, we would be unable to see our phones, and we would be able to silence them should they start going off. Most importantly, we would maintain possession of our own expensive property.

Phone usage in class needs stopping, that much is clear. But phone prisons are counterproductive: all they do is distract students visually, make difficult to identfiy noise and create fears about damage to devices.

So to the teachers who have chosen to rebrand themselves as phone jail wardens, we ask you to set your inmates free. Give the phones back to their owners, and stop the disruptions and fear for good.

View Comments (3)
About the Contributor
Alice Wang
Alice Wang, Page Designer & Editorial Cartoonist
Alice Wang is a junior, and is entering their third year with Central Times. Alice loves comics and animation, and plans on majoring in Film Production. Along with being an editorial cartoonist and page designer for the Times, Alice is also the general manager of Chinese Club, and plans on playing Badminton for Central. In their free time, they enjoy reading poorly-written webcomics, watching horror films, sleeping and conjuring up ideas to pitch to film studios in the future.
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Comments (3)

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  • E

    EthanSep 22, 2023 at 10:01 am

    Absolutely love this, it very effectively describes lots of the flaws in this system and student grievances. Another very important thing to consider that I feel hasn’t been addressed by anybody is what happens in an emergency situation?

    Say for example the fire alarm goes off. There are two main scenarios that I imagine would play out. Scenario 1 is all the students shuffle to the phone jail and now there’s a frantic and potentially dangerous altercation for everybody to get their phones. This slows down the evacuation which can potentially put people in harms way.

    Side note: I think its unrealistic to just say “the students should leave their phones and belongings” because for a lot of people, their phone might be the most expensive thing they own, and they aren’t about to just ditch it. Not to mention its a very important communication tool, which will be mentioned in the next paragraph

    In scenario 2, students get out and leave their phones behind, whether by choice because of urgency to escape or even worse, a teacher telling or forcing them to. Now the students have no way to communicate to their friends and more importantly family, which can lead to a lot of unnecessary peril and unrest because people will think something happened to their loved ones if they aren’t responding right after they see or hear about a fire.

    I hope these issues and those mentioned in the article can be addressed and we can move towards a better policy.

    Reply
  • C

    ConnorSep 22, 2023 at 9:33 am

    not to mention ive forgotten my phone in class multiple times before because I didn’t think about taking it out of phone jail

    Reply
  • C

    ConnorSep 21, 2023 at 1:09 pm

    I agree with this – currently, only one of my teachers (AP Human Geography teacher) utilizes the idea of a phone jail, and I believe that all my other teachers are in the right mindset, trusting people enough to use cell phones appropriately.

    Reply