How We Help Students Manage Cell Phone Use

How We Help Students Manage Cell Phone Use
Peter Lenzini, Dean of Students

Cell phone pouches return in 2021-2022 to store phones during academic, spiritual, and communal times.

Updated August 2021

At De Smet Jesuit High School, we are seeking to help our young men navigate this changing world. We are committed to walking with them such that they can find God in this new digital age. This will inform curriculum and instruction, policy, programming, and the conversations that we have with our young men.

In the fall of 2019, De Smet Jesuit implemented a new cell phone policy that required all students to deposit their mobile devices in pouches upon entering class or an academic space. This improved student attention during class time and reduced misconduct citations.

The movement away from the use of cell phone pouches last year was prompted by concerns for the physical safety of our students. Now, with greater awareness of how the virus works, we feel confident that we can safely return to the use of cell phone pouches during academic time.

The amount of academic research supporting the notion that cell phones in classrooms negatively impact academic performance is considerable. Further, there is a wealth of research that cell phone addiction is prevalent among American teens and is leading to a significant rise in anxiety and depression (please see this webpage for a greater appreciation for our cell phone policy). It was for these reasons that we enacted—with great success—a cell phone policy that puts physical distance between students and their devices during academic, spiritual, and designated community time.

Cell phone misuse was one of the highest citations of misconduct for a De Smet Jesuit student during the 2018-2019 school year, largely because students pulled out phones at inopportune times during class or Mass. After careful review, we decided to update our cell phone policy in order to help remove the temptation and likelihood of distraction while still allowing students to use cell phones during appropriate times.

Each classroom is equipped with a wall-mounted set of cell phone pouches. As students enter each classroom, they are asked to deposit their device into a teacher assigned cell phone pouch. Students will retrieve their device at the end of class under the supervision of the instructor. Upon the conclusion of academic time, students will be allowed to retrieve their phones.

On days in which we have masses or prayer services, we will protect our spiritual and communal time by asking students to leave their phones in locked classrooms until the conclusion of the mass or prayer service.

Students are allowed to check their phones during passing periods, activity periods, and lunch. With time, practice, and reinforcement, our conversations in and out of the classrooms will help students to make healthy decisions about how and when to use their devices.