Sentenced to 45 minutes behind bars

Phone jails implemented in classrooms to crack down on unnecessary phone usage


Lizzie Skidmore and Victoria Wilson

Over the past five years, cell phones have developed in a way that facilitates access to different mediums of information and communication. With this new responsibility in the hands of young generations, some students at Blue Valley have been struggling to manage.

That’s why in December, administration offered phone jails to classrooms that teachers could further utilize or ignore at their own will.

Social Studies teacher Clark Winslow has decided to let students keep their phones during class but said he notices the negative impact cell phones have on students’ grades, performance and behavior.

“You can become addicted to anything, and [cell phones are] a visible addiction — it shortens attention spans and interrupts sleep patterns,” Winslow said. “We didn’t [notice] it because we’ve only had cell phones for 10 years.”

For the majority of students’ careers up until high school, cell phones have not been a step in survival. So, why is it a problem now?

Chemistry teacher Manal Wiedel said it has everything to do with a student’s maturity level.

“We’re in between [that stage] of students being adults and not being adults,” Wiedel said. “Unfortunately a lot of students are not able to multitask in an appropriate manner.”

The inability of disconnecting from phones and engaging in class has played a role in lower grades and performance and has forced teachers to police students on their own personal belongings. Cell phone holders were issued to provide an opportunity in order to discipline these students.

“The students that don’t like phone jails are the ones that feel entitled to that privilege [of having a phone],” Wiedel said. “They don’t understand the consequences to that.”

Not every student is insecurely attached to their phone and misuses it in class, but for those who do, the power is now in the hands of the teacher to punish individual students with an easy and effective solution.

“I’m a firm believer in doing what you say you’re going to do,” Winslow said. “Students know when I say, ‘Get off your cell phone,’ and then they’re back on it, it’s going to go up in the phone jail. [Having a] phone jail has made it possible for me to deal with cell phones instead of having to send them down to the office.”

As overall grade averages have shown, students’ grades last semester were worse than in recent years, and

phone jails have been implemented to help students, not punish them.

“[Students need to] know when it’s their time and when it’s not,” Wiedel said.