Less drama and fewer distractions: Minnesota middle school students happier after smartphone ban
By Zoey Sky // Dec 04, 2023

Too much screen time is bad for young students, but it looks like a middle school in Minnesota has found a way to address the issue.

According to school officials, one middle school banned student cell phones a year ago and it resulted in a stark difference in students' behavior and mood.

Ban follows spate of school issues linked to smartphones

Patrick Smith, Maple Grove Middle School's principal, said that the ban "is game-changing and will have lasting impacts" on students for years to come. Before the ban was enforced, Smith said that students didn't have meaningful conversations. There was also no interaction in the hallways.

The principal said that smartphones often cause "drama" among students, particularly teenagers, along with conflict that can negatively affect their daily lives.

Smith explained that the ban started in 2022, when school officials forbade student cell phone use for the entire school day, from 8:10 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. The ban was enforced after several issues linked to smartphones erupted.

In an interview for the Chad Hartman Show, Smith said that smartphone use has resulted in bullying among students, with some engaging in fights. Other students were also exposed to negative issues and conversations on social media.

The distraction from learning was also a major issue with smartphones.

With the new policy, Maple Grove Middle School students are advised to keep their phones in their lockers. If students are caught using them, their devices are confiscated for the rest of the day.

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When school officials discussed the idea with parents ahead of implementation, Smith said the response was very positive. In fact, parents applauded after the plan was announced. There was no opposition from the parents.

A year after the ban was enforced, Smith happily reported that the results speak for themselves. Overall, Maple Grove Middle School students were happy and "engaging with each other."

It remains to be seen how the ban has affected academics overall, but feedback from parents suggests that it was helpful.

Kim Gellen, one of the parents, said that her son is "thriving and really focused and doing really well." He even participates in class discussions, according to her son's teachers.

The positive results at Maple Grove have reinforced Republican state Rep. Kristin Robbins’ efforts to bring the change to other schools in Minnesota. She believes that this is an area with potential for great progress.

Studies have found that frequent cell phone use is a mental distraction and smartphone users are often occupied with constantly checking their phones for updates.

One study from Common Sense Media that analyzed the smartphone data of 200 students revealed that at least 97 percent of 11- to 17-year-olds use their phones during the school day. It also reported that the amount of in-school screen time ranged from less than a minute to 6.5 hours, with a median time of 43 minutes.

In addition, the study showed that students picked up their phones a median of 51 times per day, though pickup amounts ranged from two to 498 times per day.

Meanwhile, data from the the National Center for Education Statistics revealed that 91 percent of schools banned non-academic use of phones during the 2009 to 2010 school year, a figure that declined to 66 percent from 2015 to 2016, before rebounding to 77 percent from 2019 to 2020.

How to help children and teenagers develop healthy tech habits

Follow the tips below to help your children find balance between technology and real-world experiences.

Set clear boundaries

To establish healthy tech habits, set clear boundaries with your children.

You can do this by defining limits on weekdays and weekends, along with meal times and before bedtime. Clear boundaries provide structure and help children understand the importance of moderation.

Lead by example

With technology, children often imitate the behavior of their parents. Set a strong example by being mindful of your smartphone use.

Limiting your screen time and your children's can help them have a more balanced view of what constitutes responsible media use. (Related: Screen time linked to developmental delays in young children.)

Create tech-free zones at home

If your children are having a hard time limiting their phone use, create tech-free zones, like the dining room and bedrooms, to promote focused, in-person interactions and improve sleep quality.

It's also beneficial to limit phone use at home by designating tech-free zones because these zones can serve as sanctuaries for meaningful connections and relaxation.

Prioritize quality content

As children grow older, they start to develop critical thinking skills and ask more complex questions.

As a parent, you can help children explore educational and age-appropriate content that aligns with their interests. Early exposure to quality content can help with cognitive development and critical thinking, which are important for a child’s academic success as they get older.

Keep in mind that even if technology can be used for educational purposes, gadgets are not a substitute for face-to-face interactions with adults or other children.

Discuss how much time is appropriate and how long they can use their phones and other gadgets daily. Monitor apps or games, especially with younger children, and talk to them about the content they’re viewing online or playing with on their devices.

Discuss online safety

Children and teens must also learn about online safety.

Cover important topics such as:

  • Managing privacy settings, which will allow them to choose who sees their posts and who can send them messages. Teach them that they don’t have to accept friend requests from strangers or people they don’t know well in real life.
  • Scams and phishing attempts to keep their data safe. Teach them how to avoid email scams that will ask for payment to receive a prize. Tell them to delete emails from an unfamiliar address and to avoid opening suspicious links or attachments.

Engage in joint activities

Help children make the most of their devices by finding new and fun ways to make screen time more active and engaging. Use their phone or tablet to play educational games or a game that requires strategy, like checkers.

Implement these useful strategies to help your children learn how to balance screen time responsibly.

Watch the video below to learn how smartphones can cause addiction, especially in children.

This video is from the Kla.TV - English channel on Brighteon.com.

More related stories:

Study links BLUE LIGHT from smartphones and tablets to EARLY PUBERTY.

New York lawmakers propose new bills to mitigate the negative impact of social media on minors.

Parents and school officials of small Irish town unite to BAN SMARTPHONES for children as old as 13.

Sources include:

AmericanClassroom.com

CBSNews.com

Medium.com

Brighteon.com



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