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Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

the hoofprint

Walnut High School | 400 Pierre Rd. Walnut, Calif. 91789

High schools witness increased cell phone usage in classroom

Cell phones pose distractions and may affect academic performance.
Photo source: Pexels

Ever since the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walnut High has been experiencing a spike in student disciplinary actions related to cell phones. 

Cell phones increase the likelihood of cheating, sleep deprivation, cyberbullying and mental health disorders. They also affect learning retention and student’s ability to develop an attention span. At Walnut, phones open up limitless opportunities for students to get in trouble while on campus. Typically, freshmans receive the most cell phone referrals and usually happen during the first semester. 

“I usually don’t use my phone, but I always see a lot of people hiding their phones behind their computers and stuff like that. They might be playing video games, or scrolling on Instagram or TikTok,” freshman Justin Abellera said. “I think that when a lot of my classmates use their phones, they don’t hear the directions and might completely forget they even had homework.”

According to school policy, students must turn off their phones and put them away during instructional periods unless a staff member specifically says otherwise. Cell phones may only be used during passing periods and after school. A study by Common Sense Media claims that 97% of teenagers use their phones during school hours and that the amount of daily in-school screen time reached a peak of almost seven hours. 

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“When students try to sneak out their phone, they usually tap out of class and stop paying attention. It takes them mentally out of class and it takes away from what I’m trying to teach. The more and more they don’t pay attention, the more they fall behind in class,” Turner-Gibbs said. “ When I see a student on their phone, I try to make eye contact with them or tap the desk. If they still are using their phone, I’ll tell them to put it away and if it gets worse, I’ll probably contact their parents or the GLC. ” 

Phones pose a major distraction that affects both learning and exam scores. However, this school year, classrooms began to post the Rule of 5 this school year, and number two emphasizes that “cell phones should be out of sight unless your teacher permits to use it.” During the 2023-2024 school year, 98 teacher issued cell phone referrals were given out compared to the 436 from last year. Recently, disciplinary action related to cell phones have been trending downwards and the issue is getting better. 

“Sometimes, I allow students to use phones to look up German vocabulary, but it ends up being a distraction. It’s out of habit that when the students see a notification, they click on it and end up texting with their friends, or just scrolling through videos,” German teacher Leah Turner-Gibbs said. “At home too, the phones distract them from finishing homework on time, which is why a lot of students have time management issues.”

Teachers give two general warnings inside of their classrooms when students take out their phones. On the third occurrence, there is a 30 minute detention and a fourth occurrence will result in an hour detention. 

“It really depends on the teacher about how they enforce the rules the first couple of times. There are strict rules on the phones because of how potentially disruptive they can be. Phones inhibit student engagement and learning while in class. We will always try to discourage the usage of phones during class to help improve quality of learning,” GLC Morgan Galeener said. 

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Timmothy Chen
Timmothy Chen, Staff writer
Hi, my name is Timmothy Chen, and I'm in the ninth grade as a staff writer for The Hoofprint. Outside of The Hoofprint, I play tennis and enjoy going outside in general. In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out or talking with friends.
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