Cell Phones and Personal Responsibility

Schools around the country and around the world have been grappling with student cell phone usage and policies for many years, and CVHS is no different. Currently our policy allows cell phones in hallways and the cafeteria, but not in bathrooms or locker rooms. In addition, they are allowed in classrooms only with teacher permission. Students may be referred to the office for violating these expectations and consequences are progressive: 1st offense = detention, 2nd offense = 2 detentions, 3rd offense = in-school suspension. We believe that each of our students should reflect on their own cell phone use and the impact that it has on their social and family interactions, their academic performance, and their overall happiness. Throughout the year we will be challenging students to consider their usage and at times to experiment with their level of usage to determine first-hand what the impact is on their lives. Along with school usage, students should consider their use at home, including at the dinner table and at bed-time. Ultimately, each of us, students and adults, need to make decisions related to cell phone use that promote our overall happiness and success.

The articles below provide information and opinions regarding cell phone use in school. Below each link is information taken from each article.


  • It’s not an all-or-nothing kind of thing. I think we need to have conversations. We can say to kids, “Have you thought about the pros and cons? How does a device work in your own life? How much time are you spending on your devices? What kind of time are you spending on them? What’s happening when you’re feeling that urge to get on it in the classroom?”


  • One study published by the London School of Economics traced the impact of banning mobile phones at schools on exam scores. Researchers found that students in schools with phone bans earned higher test scores and that low-performing students benefited the most.
  • Another study published in the Journal of Communication Education found that students without mobile phones performed better in several different areas. They wrote down 62 percent more information in their notes, were able to recall more detailed information from class and scored a full letter grade-and-a-half higher on a multiple choice test than those who were actively using their mobile phones.
  • Research published by the University of Chicago found that even if cell phones are turned off, turned face down or put away, their mere presence reduces people’s cognitive capacity.


  • Students check their phones in the classroom an average of more than 11 times a day. That can add up to a lot of time spent distracted from schoolwork. And when students are distracted, it’s a recipe for extra stress, frustration, and catch-up time for everyone.
  • Cons of allowing cell phones: Distractions and interruptions, cyberbullying, cheating, disconnection from face-to-face activities.


  • The 2013 study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (pdf) concluded out of 777 students surveyed at six United States universities, the average student used a digital device around 10 times a day for non-class related purposes. More than 80 percent of participants said this caused them to pay less attention and miss instruction. In the 2015 study published by the Centre for Economic Performance (pdf), an improvement in student performance of 6.41 per cent was shown in schools that introduced a cell phone ban. The study concludes that multi-use technology like cell phones, can negatively affect productivity by causing distraction. According to the CEP study, schools with strict policies on cell phone use experience improvement in test scores. The study does not rule out the possibility the cell phones could be a useful learning tool, if that use is structured well.


  • A 2016 study published by the Pediatrics journal found that the increasing rates of depression in adolescents, especially girls, corelated with the use of mobile phones and texting apps.


  • My sons will have six hours of the day free from the nonstop barrage of bad news alerts. The latest shooting, terror attack, disaster or potty-mouthed tweetstorm. Invaluable time to relax, and connect, without phones. I'm grateful to see some schools investing in that.


  • The average high school senior in 2017 spent six hours a day texting, online and on social media during their time outside of school.
  • Just as smartphones became common around 2011, youth mental health began to suffer. Rates of depression, self-harm and suicide increased sharply, and happiness and life satisfaction fell.


  • Teens are also more likely than their parents to check their mobile device in the middle of the night, after they've fallen asleep. About 36 percent teenagers say they wake up at least once a night to check their device, compared with 26 percent of parents. What's more, kids are more apt to check their devices within 5 minutes of waking up. Thirty-two percent of teenagers say they check their devices within 5 minutes of waking up, and 40 percent say they check them within 5 minutes of going to bed. That's compared with 23 percent of adults checking their devices within five minutes of waking up and 26 percent within 5 minutes of bedtime. There are big questions about the impact of that behavior on sleep.