Nearly every high school student has a smartphone available during school hours, and as an educator I am troubled by the resulting behaviors: a compulsive need to be online and have access to devices, disinterest in activities that don’t involve a smartphone, unwillingness to leave the device to attend to class assignments, using the phones for primary communication to sustain friendships, irritability or lethargy when not engaged in technology. Students even request restroom passes as a cover to use their phones.
Psychiatrists say that “internet use disorder” affects the connections between the areas of the brain that control attention, executive control and emotion processing (all important for learning and socialization) in the same way alcohol and drugs do. Someone with this disorder will be preoccupied with the internet and experience physical, emotional and behavioral withdrawal if it is removed.
Video of SRO, Spring Valley student sparks strong social-media reaction
If the Spring Valley High School student who was removed from the classroom had the propensity to be belligerent, and you add to that a smartphone addiction, her response was assured: When asked to put the phone away, she was physiologically, emotionally and behaviorally unable to do so.
We as a society must be of one accord: We must require students to leave the phones at home or else find a way to block their use at school. Students do not need phones to learn or socialize. Access to the internet at school should be directed by the teacher. If a need arises to communicate, parents and students can use the school phone.
Our children need us to take control. Their future depends on it.