Should students’ cell phones be removed during school?

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Bullard High School Fresno’s new cellphone policy has been a source of controversy since it was first announced. The school is creating a “cellphone-free environment”, by asking students to put their cellphones in pouches during school hours.

The Fresno Unified School District says it supports this decision, although it has not implemented this policy as a district, and it is taking place with the goal of improving the learning environment, reduce distractions in the classroom and foster better relationships on campus.

On the other side of the argument, students believe it’s a way to cover up incidents, like the one that happened several months ago when photos surfaced online showing a student in what looks like a makeshift KKK hood on campus.

Mobile phones are an essential tool for students and parents to communicate with each other. There are many reasons why these are necessary for students. But within the confines of the classroom, do students have to have their telephones?

According to a study by ZIPPA, on average, Americans check their phones 96 times a day, or once every 10 minutes. High school students spend just over 6 hours a day in class more or less. That would mean that in a school day, a student might check their phone 36 times based on those numbers.

If students check their phones during instructional times, it would cause what is called cognitive distraction. A study by Frontierin defines this as the user’s difficulty in processing two or more types of information at the same time. A phone call, text message, reminders and social media can cause them to lose attention, which means they miss instructions.

Greater distraction then arises as the student is now distracted by the thought of receiving a message, social media interaction, or phone call, even while trying to be engaged in class. The study indicates that this can lead to reduced productivity and emotional well-being.

In a school district that has 38% reading proficiency, 30% math proficiency, and an average graduation rate of 86% (according to Niche), Fresno Unified administrators want to find ways to increase those numbers. Removing cell phones, while controversial, is one way to try to remove a known distraction from the classroom environment.

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