“Iowa high school bans cell phones, air pods to improve students’ mental health”

I’ve worked with youth for many years, and over the last 15 years, I’ve been connected to a school system in various capacities. During this time, I’ve observed school administrators, teachers, and counselors grapple with the cell phone issue. Initially, cell phones were mainly in the hands of high school students, but now even elementary students have them. It’s been a tough battle. Recently, a principal of a 5th and 6th grade school told me that cell phones are the number one problem in his school, and he doesn’t know what he would do with all the free time he’d have if cell phones were not an issue.

The reality is that kids have phones, and we must teach them responsible usage. But when should phones be allowed in school? Drawing from my own experience, we survived school without phones. However, I recognize that times have changed. For high school students involved in sports, having a phone makes it easier to communicate pick-up times, locations, practice changes, and event cancellations.

Like learning to drive, which we wait to teach until age 16, there’s an argument for waiting until kids are mature enough to handle smartphones responsibly. Schools need to decide which battles to engage in. It’s clear that smartphones have disrupted learning and contributed to mental health issues, attention and focus problems, and social struggles among peers. While these issues existed before smartphones, the phones add complexity.

Children are only young once; let them enjoy it, and enjoy it yourself. Delaying the introduction of phones in school until students can use them responsibly can make a significant positive difference, and I’m sure many principals would appreciate this approach.

Read about what Iowa schools are doing to ban phones.

~ Ryan