Professor George Theoharis Weighs In on School Cell Phone Bans

An Onondaga County high school is cracking down on cell phones. Will it last?

( | Sept. 7, 2022) Cam Aitchison, who will be a sophomore at Liverpool High School this fall, said he’s always kept his cell phone in his pants pocket while in class.

George TheoharisStarting Thursday, new school rules mean that in the classroom he will have to store it in his backpack or place it in a numbered pocket on the wall. Aitchison, 14, said that’s OK with him.

But there’s another new rule he doesn’t like: Liverpool is prohibiting high school students who leave class to use the bathroom from taking their cell phone with them …

… George Theoharis, a professor of educational leadership at Syracuse University, said he believes the pandemic and kids learning outside the classroom environment exacerbated discipline issues and led to lower academic performance. Schools everywhere are dealing with an increase in fights and anti-social behavior, he said.

“It’s a mess,” he said. “And it’s complicated.”

Theoharis said he’s not sure restricting cell phones as Liverpool is doing is the answer.

“I’m not sure how that gets them there‚” he said. “It’s a strategy that makes me nervous.”

Part of the problem is enforcement. Theoharis wonders if teachers want to spend their time monitoring cell phone use. He also said when adults don’t acknowledge how important kids’ phones are to them, it doesn’t help them feel connected to their school and teachers.

Theoharis said he does like the idea of the three new student deans, whose job will be to monitor hallway behavior …

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