Should schools take students’ phones?

Should schools take students' phones?

It seems that kids are getting their own phones at younger and younger ages. While smartphones can be a very useful tool for school-age children, they can also be a large distraction while in class. School faculties have struggled with the debate over whether or not their students should have access to their phones while school is in session. While one may think that students without their phones would be less distracted, there’s no conclusive evidence to show that taking away their phones improves grades. However, one school in California is taking an unusual approach to the students and phones problem.

San Mateo High School in Northern California has required students to keep their phones in a magnetically sealed bag. The students keep the bags on them during school hours but they do not have access to their phones until school is over. At that point, the school opens the bags for students with a device that looks similar to an anti-shoplifting device you might see at a store checkout. Some students have complained that the school does not unlock their phones during lunch but that sounds more like a logistical issue than one of admonishment. San Mateo High is not the first school to use these devices.

There appears to be at least one drawback to this program and that is one of student safety. Sadly, our schools have become targets of violence and threats. While the odds of a violent attack happening at any particular school is low, it is, unfortunately, a real possibility these days. If an attack were to happen and students would need to contact law enforcement or family would there be a way to release the bags during an emergency? While this is a worst-case scenario, it seems like this is a concern that needs to be addressed by schools using the device.