Cell Phones in School: Are they Necessary?

Cell Phones in School: Are they Necessary?

During the RamJam show this past semester, 400 students watched the spectacular performances created by fellow peers in amazement. A courageous student pulled out a phone with a sly smile, planning to get away with playing video games, until Rabbi Stochel came over and confiscated it. After witnessing this, I wondered: What are the guidelines of cell-phone usage throughout the school day?

Walking throughout the halls of the Ramaz Upper School, students will be seen gawking at cell phones, examining different programs ranging from Schoology to social media. Before my arrival in the Upper School, I heard rumors about cell phones at Ramaz and how students are allowed to use them anytime throughout the day (though not during class, of course). At the start, I did not understand the point of having the ability to use them during school. In the Ramaz Middle School, if a student was seen with a phone, they would be sent to the principal’s office. I especially remember hearing lectures in our advisory meetings dealing with the topic of decreasingly using technology. We were told that it’s better to interact with each other in person, rather than using social media such as Snapchat. I agreed that it was more effective to interact in person, and felt this was a great lesson. I imagined having the option to use phones at any time in the Upper School would be abused and overused.

However, after the first month of school, I was overwhelmed by the number of emails and Schoology posts I was getting from students and teachers about clubs and special schedule updates. If I didn’t check my phone throughout the school day, I would miss opportunities for Mishmar and clubs on that day, and this did happen to me during my first few weeks here. I had the misconception that one shouldn’t use cell phones during the day, and it took a month for me to get into the habit of checking Schoology and emails from teachers during school hours. One might argue that teachers and students should post in advance; there was a time Schoology didn’t even exist at all! 

From teachers’ perspectives, if they are going to be absent, they need to let their students know about material that should be covered in class, whether it’s in advance or on the day-of on Schoology. Given that the school has adopted this environment of using technology throughout the day, teachers do not feel that it is “unfair” to post an assignment online on the day they aren’t there.

Therefore if this is the case, new students should be informed that it is recommended to check updates on Schoology during the day. Checking Schoology during school would have been a good tip at the start of the year: there are so many posts throughout the day, checking them by the hour is easier than scrolling through endless posts at the end of the day about clubs that have already met. One would also miss out on after school opportunities if they didn’t see updates posted that day.

In the Ramaz Middle School, I would have thought that cell phone usage in the Upper School shouldn’t be necessary since it isn’t in the Middle School. However, after attending the Upper School, I noticed that one cannot draw a comparison between the two regarding cell phones since emails and Schoology posts didn’t appear during school hours in the Middle School. The Ramaz Middle and Upper Schools are completely different environments, especially with a greater number of after-school opportunities in the Upper School including clubs, athletic and academic teams, and the arts, requiring more constant updates. In conclusion, I have learned  that students in the Ramaz Upper School are essentially required to check their phones during school, whether they want to or not. Without phones, we would miss daily teacher and club posts and lose track of daily events.