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Smartphone Addiction in School

Even the best teachers are no match for the allure of smartphones. That's why a Boston charter school deserves credit for its innovative strategy ("A School's Way To Fight Phones In Class: Lock 'Em Up," npr.org, Jan 11). 

When students enter the City on a Hill Circuit Street charter school, administrators take students' phones, slip them into a soft pouch and lock them closed with a security tag.  Students take their pouched phones with them for the entire school day, but they can be unlocked only at dismissal time.  Although the strategy is opposed by some students, overall compliance has been remarkably good.

No one denies that mobile devices are here to stay, but they can be addictive.  Like all addictions, it's extremely hard to wean users off such devices.  I think school officials need to take a firm stance.  There are already enough distractions.  School is supposed to be about learning.  What surprises me is that there has not been more resistance to the strategy.  It's to the credit of the principal that he has stood his ground.  Too often, the most well intentioned policies are reversed when enough students and parents complain.

The policy can also have other unintended benefits.  When young people see that they can survive without their smartphones, they may also begin to interact more personally with others.  That's no small thing in a society where treating others with greater respect is a major goal.

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