Locked Up, Locked Out

Locked Up, Locked Out

Cell phone parking lots. You know, the blue and yellow pouches that hang on the wall in every classroom. At the beginning of this school year, every teacher was told they had to have their students put their phones in the parking lots for the entirety of every class.

St. George’s has been trying just about everything to get students off of their phones for the past seven years. Put your phone in your locker, in your backpack, in a box, on the ground, on your desk, on a table at the front of the room, in this blue bucket, and now, in the cell phone parking lot.

Has it worked?

No. Obviously, not. If students want to keep their phones, they will find a way. We’ve seen this before.

“I forgot my phone in my car.”

“I left it at home.”

“I left it in my last class.”

If teachers forget to make sure every phone is in the parking lot, not every phone will be there.

Cell phones rule not only the lives of teenagers, but the whole world, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

Every Sunday, Apple users get a weekly update on their average daily cell phone use from the past week. It says something like “Congratulations, you’ve wasted 15% more time this week than you wasted last week. Go to the gym.”

But that’s just another number, another notification to swipe and ignore. We’re not going to change.

I respect St. George’s for trying to limit our phone usage — personally, I find that I can focus more without my cell phone buzzing on the desk next to me — but the school will lose this battle every time.

Phones hold everything. I can use the calculator, open the dictionary, fact check using Google, look at my grades, find my homework assignments and submit them. The possibilities are literally endless. You can’t fight that.

I can contact anyone I need to. I can send my mom a text, email my teachers, ask my friends what the plan is for lunch that day. Colleges call me on my phone.

Some students have employers and doctors that call on their phones and sometimes those calls are urgent.

Not to mention, students get important safety alerts on their phones.

During the school day on Sept. 23, a shooter opened fire inside a Kroger just six miles from St. George’s. Where was my phone? In the parking lot.

I found out about the shooting after class. But tragedies like this one don’t wait until after class. Thankfully, none of my family or friends were at Kroger at the time of the shooting, but other members of the St. George’s community were.

No rule can compete with my desire to know my family is safe.

The truth is, the school has the same chance of successfully controlling cell phone use in classrooms as I have of marrying Cole Sprouse. And no amount of hoping and dreaming will actually make it happen.

The school can fight with students as long as they want because students are willing to fight back and the students will win every time.

Let’s invest our energies elsewhere. We are wasting time and effort that could be used to make an actual difference somewhere
else: improving clubs, actively working to promote inclusion in our community, ramping up our arts program, showing off the individual talents of our students, checking in on their mental health regularly, educating our students on physical health, pick anything.

We can create a stronger community by investing our energy in the places where it can take us the farthest.