People, especially younger generations, have not only grown fond of, but also dependent on using technology for everything from entertainment to socializing. However, technological dependence comes with its own set of detriments. Research has shown that excessive screen use such as television, video games and the internet predicts a variety of psychological and medical health issues. So, Corona del Mar Middle School recently set an example that other school districts should follow: They adopted a new policy where students are prohibited from using cellphones during lunch, except in designated areas.
Rebecca Gogel, Corona del Mar Middle School’s principal, claims that a year ago, lunch breaks at the school were very different. According to Gogel, most students were glued to their phones at any chance they had, and the students without a phone were ostracized due to the digital divide. However, a few weeks after the implementation of the campus’ new policy, she noticed many substantial changes in behavior. Of 841 students, school officials claimed that 95 percent adhered to the rules, and students were actually socializing, laughing and seemingly having a good time.
Corona del Mar’s newly implemented policy stands to be quite revolutionary in a time where having a cellphone is considered to be standard protocol. Nowadays, kids are being gifted cell phones at very young ages, exposing them to the cybersphere very early on in their lives. According to Influence Central’s 2016 Digital Trends Study, the average age for having a smartphone is now 10.3. Moreover, not only do kids get cell phones at an incredibly young age, but they are exposed to other forms of technology even earlier on. According to a small study done in 2014 that surveyed 350 children’s usage of mobile media, it was found that three-quarters of the children were given tablets, smartphones or iPods of their own by the age of four.
While one might believe that children having access to the web on their smartphones or tablets will promote a smarter and more informed generation, it is actually proven to be otherwise. In a study, technology writer Nicolas Carr observed that when we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, and hurried, distracted and superficial thinking. Thus, it is said that even though the internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallow thinkers.
With all of this in mind, Corona del Mar’s approach is one that other school districts should be adopting as well. Currently, a majority of schools will only prohibit students from using their phones during class, allotting them the freedom to access their cellphones and surf the web at any other time. However, knowing how technology can negatively impact the development of students, the approach that Corona Del Mar has taken will promote a smarter and more successful group of students. For instance, as reported by the Guardian, a 2015 study called “Ill Communication: Technology, Distraction & Student Performance” found that, after schools banned mobile phones, the test scores of students improved by 6.4 percent. According to the Centre for Economic Performance, which published the study, this is equivalent to adding five days of instruction to the school year.
Another major downside to these technological advancements is kids are foregoing the opportunity to interact with their peers and enjoy other people’s company. In fact, according to a 2009 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, it was found that internet users are 38 percent less likely to rely on family or friends as discussion confidants.
If young children continue to invest in the digital world, these percentages will inevitably rise, which will only prompt more psychological and physical health concerns. Thus, other schools should use Corona del Mar’s approach to cellphones as a stepping stone, and contribute to creating a healthier and more successful generation.