The use of technology for non-educational purposes, mainly cell phones, has always been frowned upon at Westminster. With the start of the 2022-2023 school year, scholars have been presented with a new phone policy “See it, hear it, take it.” Not only does this rule apply to phone usage, but AirPods and smart-watches as well. Complaints over this rule become more of an issue among students who wish to use their devices during study halls or free time.
The bitterness from the student body is understandable, but it is always necessary to see both sides of the situation. What is the benefit of limited technology use? Will this help evolve Westminster as a community? Looking at the bigger picture, screen time is an issue for adolescents and adults.
In an article published on June 1st, 2022, by Heather Kelly from Washington Post, explains, “During school, the two main concerns are a distraction in the classroom, the way that phones interfere with face-to-face conversation, for example, during lunch.”
Westminster wants to emphasize a sense of community and friendship. Building relationships with technology is a more significant struggle in the younger generation than ever. Phones are a fantastic way to build connections with individuals worldwide, but how does this benefit social skills regarding face-to-face interaction? With the absence of phones from 7:55 am to 3 pm, interaction like this is vital to getting students through the 8-hour day. Socializing, unplugging, and much more are promoted through this policy.
Westminster staff feels as if they have found the source of the problem and tackled it. Phones create a lack of social interaction among students, so take them away; problem solved.
Every situation has a downside, though. The adverse effects of cutting off technology need to be looked at too. What is a reason a student could need their phone? The reason is the exact one as to why students come to school, to learn and research. Technology is a powerful tool that opens a world of viable research that an outdated textbook cannot provide. Once again, another problem is presented to Westminster staff. Technology cannot be taken entirely away because students need the internet to research, so Ipads are administered. Problem solved, but do these Ipads solve the problem, though?
On April 22nd, 2019, Oxford learning released an issue saying: “Cell phones can give students access to more information, letting them research more about a topic while having class discussions. This is especially true for current events that have not yet been covered in school textbooks.”
The power of research on a smartphone is apparent to everyone, but the staff has created a problem by taking phone privileges away. Without technology, there is no research; without research, learning cannot continue. Westminster, on the contrary, gives students a tool to complete these tasks off a cellphone, but does it allow them to do so? The iPads given out to the students at Westminster are almost comparable to a textbook. Numerous educational websites and videos are blocked. Once again, research is limited.
Fighting for the usage of phones during a school day seems like a very teenage thing to do, but students face a great struggle with the technology provided. Multiple websites are blocked, making projects more complex, and the teachers’ lesson plans are blocked by the wifi here. I recall numerous occurrences where I needed to watch a video for a class or search for an image for a project, but neither of these was applicable. If students could pull out their phones to watch these videos or get additional research, this issue wouldn’t even be a discussion. Westminster staff creates a problem for themselves through this policy; they take a powerful tool away and replace it with a weak and unusable one.
Teachers and students become frustrated in events like these. There is a solution to the issue, but it’s not noticed due to the negative stigma surrounding smartphones at school. Looking past the frustration of the new cell phone policy at Westminster, the benefits are apparent. It is no longer a fight for students simply wanting access to social media during school hours but a fight for their education. The benefits of technology from an educational perspective must be recognized so the Westminster community can learn from this and find a more logical solution for the phone policy.