School districts look at phone policy for students

August 28, 2019 07:49 PM

With school already started or starting in the next few weeks, many districts are looking at their cellphone policies. There's a good reason for that.

According to the Pew Research Center, 95 percent of teenagers have access to a smartphone and 45 percent of them say they are online on a near constant basis.


NewsChannel 13 spoke with Juliet Benaquisto, president of the Schenectady Federation Teachers and a special education teacher at Mont Pleasant Middle School. She says teachers obviously have had to change their expectations for students when it comes to device usage. However, she says policies can vary depending on the circumstances.

Though Benaquisto says each teacher really sets the boundaries for device use in each of their classes, there is a portion of the code of conduct that addresses device use.

The Schenectady City School District website says students in elementary and middle schools are allowed to bring their personal devices to school, but they have to be turned off and out of sight.

The high school policy says students are allowed to bring personal devices, but they can only be used before or after school, during lunchtime and when a teacher says it can be used in class for educational purposes.

There are some instances when allowing students to use their devices is beneficial. Especially if they're working on current events or vocabulary lessons.

Of course there are students who abuse more relaxed policies, but Benaquisto says the way those situations are handled is extremely important.

"You can quickly get into a battle with kids if you get to that point. Sometimes it just happens, unfortunately, where you know a teacher might say to a student ‘I’m taking your phone until the end of the class’ or ‘I’m going to give it to the principal.’ You know, that doesn't always get the best outcome," said Benaquisto.

So how do parents play into this? Benaquisto says they play a big role in helping set device boundaries when at school. Find out how by watching the video of Emily Burkhard’s story.


Emily Burkhard

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