As principal of George Read Middle School in New Castle, Nicholas Wolfe says he was alarmed by studies indicating that cellphone usage among children is resulting in “self-isolation, depression, suicidal ideation and bullying.” He decided that students needed to put their phones away during school hours. His solution? Providing free, personal pouches to lock away phones—and curb temptation—while students are supposed to be learning in class.
The initiative is in collaboration with YONDR, a company that uses a patented system to “create phone-free spaces for artists, educators, organizations and individuals.” Once a cell phone is locked into a YONDR pouch, a special device is needed to unlock it. This device is set up at stations at the entrance of a “phone-free space,” making it convenient to simply unlock the YONDR pouch and take the cell phone back out as you leave.
Along with fellow participants Gunning Bedford and McCullough middle schools, George Read provides phone access if students need to call home; emergency unlocking stations are mounted throughout the building. Students maintain possession of their phones, and Wolfe believes the system will “teach ownership and self-accountability.” He says the system is preferable to having teachers constantly policing phone restriction “by playing Whack-a-Mole.”
The program thus far, he says, has generally been accepted by students and parents.
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