by Gemma Bayly, Year 12 student, Kaipara College
At the start of the year we received an email to say that Kaipara College was placing a ban on mobile phones. Many students were horrified. Before this year, phones were everywhere at school. At lunchtime, students sat with their friends, but communicated silently on their phones. In class, some students played games on their phones instead of doing work.
At first, many students said that the ban was “stupid,” “dumb,” and “never going to work.” Some complained that they couldn’t use their phone to make themselves look less like loners when their friends weren’t around. Some parents worried that they couldn’t text their children throughout the day to see how they were going. But now, many students agree that the ban is making them more focused in class.
Students talk to their friends more at lunchtimes, instead of messaging friends they are not with. Some students who used to sit by themselves on their phones have found friends. In class, students are more focused on schoolwork, without the temptation to whip out a phone every few minutes to check if anyone has texted them, or to play a game.
Even with a ban, the habit of using a phone is hard to break for some. There are definitely fewer phones around the school, but if you look closely enough, you can see a few hidden behind a school bag or in someone’s lap. Teachers walk around the school at break times, their eyes scanning furtively for phones. There are often frantic movements from students slipping phones into bags. Sometimes teachers quietly smile and pretend not to see, but not always.
We didn’t realize for quite a while that there was a competition running between the teachers to see who could confiscate the most phones in a day. One teacher managed to confiscate a record breaking 20 phones in one day, and Mr McCracken gave us a disappointed speech in assembly.
When a teacher sees a student with a phone, they march over to them with their hand outstretched. “Phone,” they say. A disappointed student often tries to protest, and then, realising they’ve been caught, reluctantly hands it over. They have no phone for the rest of the day.
I’ve found I don’t need a phone at school most of the time. Some students are less like me, however, and need to have a smart watch that connects to their phone, showing them any texts they receive. Some students bring iPads to school, which they can use like phones but are big enough to evade the phone ban. Laptops can be used where a phone cannot. Chromebooks are compulsory for year nines and tens, and recommended for seniors. We use them all the time in class. Even if we don’t have phones, we are still making the most of technology.
Even though many students are used to the phone ban now, as soon as the buses pull up at the end of the day, students have their phones out again.