Surely parents don’t envy members of the Dothan school board as they take on a familiar battle of the smart phone.
The devices are pervasive, and consume the attention of users for hours each day. A 2018 study by Pew Research found that teenagers spend about 9 hours each day online, with much of that on their smartphones. Even the teens will admit that’s too much – 54 percent say they spend too much time on their phones.
That leaves school personnel in a quandary over cell phone use in school. At Dothan City Schools, administrators are taking a hard line; students can have the devices, but cannot use them. A personal electronic communication device policy presented to the Dothan City school board last week recommends prohibiting the use of cell phones on all K-12 school campuses and buses and implementing harsher punishments for offenders. Violations mean losing your device to school authorities. First offense is two days. Second is 10 school days, and parents must pay a $25 fee to retrieve the device after the penalty term. The third strike is 45 days, and a subsequent violation means the student loses the device until the school year ends.
That’s serious business, particularly considering that the latest iPhone costs about $1,000.
However, the siren call of Instagram and Twitter can be difficult to resist – even for adults. Parents in the Pew survey reported usage almost as high as the teenagers.
That brings to mind a question that students have surely already broached: Will the school system’s new personal electronic communication device policy apply to adult faculty and staff as well?