Michael Pizzani ’19, Staff Writer
The topic of students’ use of phones is widely talked about. Just last year the entire school watched the documentary “Screenagers”, which discusses kid’s addiction to technology, specifically smartphones in schools. Although not taken very seriously by the majority of the students, it definitely made an impression on the faculty. As this new school year began, Mr. Ward announced a new upper school phone ban. This ban states that no student can use their phone in any hallway, stairwell, or the front lobby. The biggest change of all, however, is that the middle school phone restriction has been extended into freshman year. This means that freshman cannot use their phones at any time during the school day, including lunch and frees.
Much to the student’s dismay, the faculty assures students that it’s for the best. The main logic behind the ban, according to Mr. Ward, is to make the transition between middle school to Upper School easier. The workload increases significantly in the Upper School, and he says that by not having access to phones like in Middle School, the freshman have one less significant change.
The school obviously wants the best for the freshman, but this raises the question: is this solving the problem, or simply postponing it? Dissenters believe the school is somewhat coddling the freshman, and they need to learn how to manage their phone usage by themselves. After all, as one of the four pillars of the honor code, responsibility is one of the main ethos of the school and clearly important to the faculty. Isn’t part of the upper school experience being responsible in managing your distractions and productivity? Some would argue that many of the lessons the school wants the freshman to learn cannot be taught, but rather adapted through experiences. The ban may be preventing students from making mistakes; however, critics would say that the lesson of appropriate technology use is only learned through making those mistakes.
Regardless of the motivations behind this ban, the freshman are not happy about it. One freshman pointed out that she was “promised” her phone in the Upper School. She didn’t think that she would be any less productive with it, and having it wouldn’t make the transition any harder. She also argued that when students do get access to their phones at the end of the day, they use it for much longer. This begs the question: isn’t it human nature to want to use something more when told that you’re not allowed?
As for the rest of the ban, Mr. Ward asserted that the ban would maintain a positive impression of the school for prospective students and parents. In other words, students staring at their phones while potential applicants are visiting is not a good look. Additionally, Mr. Ward argued that the ban addressed a less significant concern for students safety. Essentially, staring at your phone in the hallway or stairwell may lead to some collisions and the lobby ban would promote awareness and in turn, reduce a possible hazard.
In the end, we live in a world where smartphones exist, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. There is no doubt that learning how to effectively use your phone is important in being productive and efficient. Ultimately, this new rule could help students discover how to use technology effectively and avoid costly mistakes while their still developing academic management tools, or possibly create more problems in delaying the responsibility of technology.