Schools grappling with student cellphone use
By Fred Knapp , Reporter/Producer Nebraska Public Media
Nov. 29, 2023, midnight ·
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Nebraska schools are continuing to wrestle with how to handle students’ cellphone use. Here is one superintendent’s view of the issue.
Schools across the state are dealing with the problem of students’ cellphone use distracting them. About an hour north of Grand Island, in Riverside School District, educators are working to help students look up from the screen.
Superintendent Stephanie Kaczor told the Legislature’s Education Committee this week that students arrive at school suffering what she compared to withdrawal symptoms from their cell phones. She says her district doesn’t let elementary school students use phones during school.
“And so when they don’t have that at school – that instant, something in front of their face screen time, they have to interact with other kids that’s why we’re seeing behaviors,” Kaczor said.
Those behaviors include hitting, kicking and biting, especially among the younger students. At middle school, Kaczor says, the problem is different – students are not talking to each other during social times, like lunch. They’re already required to give up their phones during classes. But this fall, the district tightened restrictions on middle schoolers’ phones.
“(In) one of our buildings it’s (the phone’s) now taken away during lunch because kids can’t sit and have a conversation. All they want to do is play games and we’re like ‘No, you’re going to sit.’ So we’re working through that kind of, we call, that’s ‘social emotional’ teaching kids how to sit and have a meal and talk versus be on your
phone,” Kaczor said.
Kaczor says middle school students are now allowed to have their phones for the last five minutes of lunch. There are no such restrictions at the high school.
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