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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

'Smartphones are kryptonite for learning'

Schools are going phone free to remove distractions in class and encourage students to socialize in their free time, report Meg Oliver and Analisa Novak for CBS News. Some require students to put their phones in a locked pouch at the start of the day.

"It's a game-changer; it's night and day. I saw kids' faces again," said Dennis Maher, an English teacher.

Many link kids' mental health problems to technology, they report. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that in the 10 years before the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of persistent sadness, hopelessness and suicidal thoughts surged by approximately 40%," while test scores declined.

The rise in anxiety and depression parallels the rise in smartphones and social media, says social psychologist Jonathan Haidt. "Smartphones are basically kryptonite for learning." Telling students they can have a phone but can't use it during class, "is like saying in a drug detox clinic, 'You can keep your heroin in your pocket, just don't shoot up.'"

Banning cellphones reduces stress and improves learning, principals and teachers tell Ed Week's Lauraine Langreo. “Our kids are way more engaged," says Heather Kreider, principal of Edgewater High School in Florida’s Orange County. "The apathy that we had seen from them in the last year to two years has seemed to wane. They seem more like they’re waking back up to a social experience.”

"More than three-quarters of schools, 76.9 percent, prohibited non-academic use of cellphones or smartphones during school hours in 2019-20," Langreo reports. However, bans are difficult to enforce if students are carrying unlocked phones.

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