Whether you’re sitting in a classroom, fixing your hair in the bathroom mirror or even changing for Physical Education in the locker room, there is never a time where you won’t see a student at Oswego High School with his or her eyes glued to that lovely device we call a cell phone. Whether they’re tapping through Snapchat stories watching their friends make duck faces in a mirror, scrolling through Twitter looking for a knee-slapping meme or panic-texting their friends asking if they did last nights Geometry homework, there is always something that can be done to keep students busy on that size-of-your-hand device. Cell phone addiction is undeniably a problem all across the country, but the students of OHS have it bad—real bad.
Although I am admittedly quite the phone-addict myself, I realized over the course of my high school career that the usage of cellphones in school has increased dramatically. I am not the only student who can openly admit that it is an issue.
“Cell phone addiction [at OHS] is definitely a problem,” sophomore Connor Pacyna says.
The issue of cell phone addiction is one topic where both under and upperclassmen can agree on, as other seniors see it, too.
“Everyone is always using their phones [during school], so it definitely is an issue,” senior Jessica Cejas explains.
Not only do the students realize that cell phone addiction is a problem at OHS, but the teachers do, too.
“Over the past four years, I have surveyed my classes to see how many [students] have a cell phone. In all of my classes, it has been 100% every time,” Gordon says. “[Cell phones] have become a dependence [to students], which is a huge problem.”
Cell phones have taken over our lives, and the students of OHS are able to openly admit that. The bad news? The problems that the addiction has brought to us both in and outside of school.
“I rely on my phone so much that I end up losing sleep over it,” Cejas explains. “My body is accustomed to staying up so late [using my phone] because I repeat this same cycle nearly every night.”
Cejas, however, is not alone—being a senior in high school comes with big responsibilities. As an 18-year-old myself growing up in today’s society, I can confidently say that balancing a job, school work and trying to figure out where you are headed next in life can be a lot of work. This means that at the end of each day, most of us just want to kick back and relax, and if that means spending time on our phones, than it means spending time on our phones. However, it is during the core of your day when the usage becomes an issue.
According to Daily Infographic, the average human checks their cell phone nearly 100 times a day. At OHS, I can seemingly say that all 2,729 students likely check their phone at least 100 times throughout just the school day alone, which means that a total of 272,900 “checks” have likely been completed by the end of just a seven-hour school day, considering the high level of addiction present here at OHS. This, my friend, is where the numbers do the talking.
“I [probably] spend four to five hours on my phone each day,” Cejas admitted.
From a wider perspective, 43.5% of the students that took an anonymous survey for me admitted to spending three to five hours on their phone each day. Luckily, the other 56.5% of students say they spend less than three hours on their cellphones each day. 90% of these same students answered yes to whether they were taking the survey on their cell phone.
While most students seem to spend three to five or fewer hours on their phone each day, there are some exceptions.
“According to the cell phone usage app on my iPhone, I spend nearly 10 hours on my phone each day,” senior Laurie Avila reveals.
Yes, you read that right. Avila spends approximately 10 HOURS on her cell phone each day.
The issue seems to have definitely gotten worse from previous years. Back in the day, the only thing high schoolers knew was a pen and some paper. Nowadays, it’s all about the latest technology.
“I have been teaching for 15 years and yes, there has been a huge change. [Cell phone usage] has increased dramatically—students cannot function without [a cell phone],” AP World History teacher Ms. Jacqueline Wojtyszyn explains.
One may wonder—what could a teenager be spending so much time doing on their phone for that long? The answer is simple: social media.
“I spend most of my time on social media,” Avila says. “I text a lot, Snapchat my friends, and I use Twitter and Instagram a lot too.”
Let me be honest—when gathering my data for this article, I knew there was no better way to send my survey out than using social media, even though it may have had an impact on some of my results. I sent it out via Snapchat, Twitter and even Facebook. Without these networks, my peers would have never had any idea I was looking to collect data from them. Thankfully, social media had my back.
Although social media has made an everlasting mark on today’s society, it’s not always a positive factor like some may think. In a high school setting, social media seems to have more of a negative impact rather than a positive, being students tend to lack that face-to-face communication skill.
“[Students] can communicate so easily with the touch of their fingertips, which can be a good thing. It’s when it gets used improperly that it turns into a problem,” Gordon says. “Confrontation is made easier through an electronic device, which has also lead to the existence of cyber bullying. There’s something to be said about being able to insult someone without actually needing to look them in the face.”
“Look them in the face.”
Those are the key words. That is exactly what OHS is lacking—looking others in the face and actually having a face-to-face conversation. Think about the following: the chances of an OHS student choosing to text or Snapchat their friend asking if they want to hang out later, rather than waiting for passing period to start so they can ask in person, is likely more than half of the time. Now think about this: that back-and-forth conversation between the students’ phones have probably occurred while a teacher is in the middle of a lesson near all of the time. The point? Not only is cell phone addiction ruining students’ social skills, but their manners as well.
“I think way too many people use their cellphones in class,” Pacyna says. “I personally try to keep it out of sight as much as possible out of due respect for my teachers and so I can grasp the concepts their teaching me.”
Although some students, like Pacyna, understand that using your cell phone in class is disrespectful, not all do. This results in teachers unfortunately having to find a way to cope with the issue, or not.
“I remind students as soon as the bell rings for class to start to ‘put away your phones and ear buds,’” Wojtyszyn says. “From there, I give one warning, then an email home, then a referral.”
Although discipline is meant to teach students a lesson, it only works so many times. This is when some teachers decide to avoid discipline and use technology as a benefit in the classroom.
“I try my best to incorporate [cell phones] into the curriculum as much as possible,” Gordon says. “It would be a battle to constantly tell students to put their phones away, so I have them use [them] academically as much as possible.”
Whether students are using their phones socially or academically, these devices are continuing to interrupt their school work and life in general.
“There are a lot of things, such as homework, that I should be getting done when I am at home but I just end up using my phone instead,” Avila admits.
Social media, once again, is what the students of OHS prefer to spend their time on, rather than getting actual work done.
“The other night I had chemistry homework I should have been doing but I spent my time scrolling through social media looking at nonsense instead,” Pacyna says.
The issue of cell phone addiction seems to be at its peak, and a set solution is nowhere in site. Although teachers and students both have ideas, neither are certain these outcomes would make an everlasting impact.
“I’m not really sure [of a solution],” Wojtyszyn stated. “I would love to see [cell phones] not be allowed in school, but I’m not sure how that would be set in place.”
Surprisingly, one student agrees with the idea of a phone-less environment.
“[OHS should] make a rule where cellphones are not allowed in school unless authorized by a teacher,” the surveyed student says.
Little does this student know that according to the student planner, “all electronic devices must be kept powered-off and out-of-sight- during the regular school day unless authorized by the building principal in the following circumstances: (a) with the supervising teacher’s permission; or (b) during the student’s lunch period.” So yeah, nobody really follows that, if you haven’t already realized that.
While some seem to want cell phones completely out of sight, others feel they should be more present in a classroom setting.
“We could try and use [cell phones] in the classroom in a more efficient way to make lessons more exciting,” Cejas suggests.
Other survey responses indicated that there is no solution at all, and some even said making tighter restrictions would make the issue worse than it already is.
Whether you’re a student or a teacher, you simply cannot deny the fact that OHS has been taken over by cell phones over the past decade. Although I would too be lost without my cell phone, something needs to change. Personally, I feel something like charging stations in classrooms would be a great idea—each room can have several extension cords that can hold five to six outlets each, and students can charge their phones during class, preventing them from getting distracted. This may be to the extreme, but even constructing a policy where students would lose points in class if they are seen using their cell phone at an inappropriate time would be a great idea. Something like “your daily 10,” where each student starts off with 10 points per day and loses two points every time the teacher sees them using their phone. It would probably be a challenge for the teacher to keep track of this, but if they really hated cell phones, they would make it work.
As I enter college, I will pray for OHS and its issue of cell phone usage—because I truly do not see the issue getting better anytime soon.