Away for the Day Initiative Pushes Middle School Cellphone Ban - KOAM TV 7

Away for the Day Initiative Pushes Middle School Cellphone Ban

Joplin, MO -


   Kids all ages have cellphones and many are attached to them.  An initiative called "Away for the Day" is trying to change that by providing research for parents and teachers  to get schools to ban them at middle schools.
Students at St. Peters middle school in Joplin must drop their phones in baskets every morning.
Principal Tracey Welch explained, "When kids aren’t distracted by having to keep watch of what’s in their pocket or in their backpack, they are much more likely to stay tuned in to what's going on in the classroom and stay focused on what they need to do."
Away for the Day, an initiative of Screenagers supports that stance. Its founder physician and filmmaker, Dr. Delaney Ruston argues test scores are negatively impacted when students have access to their phones.
She said,   "Because when it comes to learning and emotional well-being of middle schoolers, data now shows us that  allowing them to have smart phones all day is not smart."
At Joplin middle school, phones must be out of sight and not in use  during the school day. Something Allyson  Briley admits is hard.
She said, "It was difficult cause we went from using them a lot, to not. You want to see what the celebrities are doing. What you’re supposed to be doing. Everything  that’s popular in today's society.”
Those seen using their phones at Joplin south  get them confiscated and then taken to the office until the end of the day.   Students say some still try to sneak a peak.
Nicholas Horton an eighth grader said,  "Even my friends go on their phones while  the teachers got their back turned to them."
And Bennett Dall, a seventh grader said, "They'll say,  ‘Can I go to the bathroom? And they’ll be on their phone sometimes.  Or like after lunch  they’ll go to the bathroom,  then they’ll be on their phone."
Which is why Ruston says a no-use policy isn’t enough. Away for the Day promotes requiring phones be in lockers.
Ruston said, "We're setting a lot of kids up for failure when we say to them carry your phone but don’t use it in class. Particularly given the brain development of kids this age and their ability to limit their urges is decreased."
Ruston and principals say phones can be an avenue for peer pressure and take an emotional toll. And even students realize phones are connected to drama.  .
Briley admitted,  "
I don’t think our phones helped especially in an atmosphere with everybody  around you. Cause middle school can be really judgmental. I still think there  still is a little bit of drama but it’s not as bad cause you don’t have people  texting you  throughout the day."

Briley was already a good student but  believes she’s better without her phone. “I think that we're a lot more focused. Of course you still have the people still trying to adjust. They  get in trouble, get their phones taken quite often. But I think  it teaches us a good lesson, that we don’t need to be talking to the  world at all moments.”

   Joplin  school officials say one reason students are allowed to keep their phones is to allow their parents to contact them in case there's an emergency.
     The "Away for the Day" initiative has a website with research and testimonials. Click here for a link

It also did a parent survey click here for that link. 

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