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Setting the Tone - Should We Ban Cell Phones?

No student wants to hear “Put your phones in the caddy,” and no teacher wants to keep saying it.

Everyone has a cell phone because they are necessary to modern life, both socially and practically. At Hackett, the current policy is that phones are not allowed in classrooms and can be taken if seen, a rule that only some teachers enforce. Many teachers also have phone caddies that students put their phones in at the start of class.

From the administration perspective, Principal Scoles said “Our good, here and now, is academic excellence, so by default, we have to cut out obvious, easy, and unnecessary distractions from our goal. If it’s getting in the way of you being excellent, it's got to go.” There are times when phones are only distracting from class, so his view makes sense.

However, phones can also be used to aid classroom learning as well as ensure safety. Senior Gabe Oeurn said, “Personally, I think everyone should have their phone on them in case of a familial emergency or if it’s needed for classes, such as… in publications where we need to film a video or contact an outside source.” 

Clearly, phone use can’t be outright banned or completely unregulated. The issue doesn’t happen equally in all classes either. What it often boils down to is a student simply doesn’t care to pay attention, the phone use reflects an unengaging class or the student has some level of addiction and naturally reaches for their phone to pass the time. 

Phone and social media addiction is a very real issue. According to, 47% of Americans admit to being addicted, and on average teens spend up to 9 hours a day on their phones, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. That much screen time is equivalent to about 137 days per year. An entire third of that person’s life is being spent on their phone.

Mr. Scoles understands that it might be frustrating now, “you grumble and complain, but you need the experience to look back and say ‘they had my best interests at heart.’...[Phones] have the potential to aid greatly, but in practice, they provide multiple distractions to the educational process.” He also mentioned how cyberbullying and harassment is a continuing issue.

Hackett Catholic Prep prides itself on preparing students for college and beyond, hence the name change a few years back. However, college is a much more sink-or-swim atmosphere. If students waste all their time on their phones and don’t pay attention in class, they are at fault for failing. The goal of Hackett’s phone policy shouldn’t just be for education now but needs to help students learn independent study habits. If students can spend an entire Hackett class staring at their phone and not miss anything, which sometimes is the case, then phone regulation is a band-aid fix at best.

School policy won’t change much this semester, but stricter enforcement of the rules is very likely for future school years according to Mr. Scoles. The conversation will need to continue between the administration, parents, and students about how to best address phone use. Unfortunately, students are at Hackett to learn, so that must come first. 


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