Mental Health Initiative

Mental Health Initiative

What are we doing?

Phone free school day

Education around technology for students and families

Increase in prosocial programming/opportunities

Why the need for change?
  • Concern for the mental health of students
    • Social media and dependence on phone contributes negatively to mental health for many
    • Educating students about technology use, mental health
  • Belief we can improve our effectiveness and efficiency academically
    • Focus and engage during class
    • Reduce time spent outside of class during class time
  • Improve our culture
    • Opportunities for more social interactions to help all feel like they belong
    • Reduce unwillingness to participate due to being recorded
  • Create more time for things that are positive and productive
    • Social skill development, relationships
    • Physical activity
    • Spiritual disciplines
Because it’s what’s best for our students!
  • According to research, smartphones and social media negatively impact students in the following ways:
    • ACADEMICALLY // reduces retention, test scores, reaction time, enjoyment of tasks requiring focus, and cognitive capacity
    • MENTALLY // it takes 20 minutes for our minds to completely refocus after disruption by/use of a phone
    • EMOTIONALLY // spikes in self harm, depression, and anxiety
    • SOCIALLY // disrupts essential needs kids have as they grow up–interacting with others in real time
    • PHYSICALLY // less exercising
    • SPIRITUALLY // generally incompatible with spiritual practices
    • TIME USE // squeezes out time for everything else
  • Anticipated benefits to the students based on the experiences of other schools that have removed smartphones and increased technology education along with prosocial programming:
    • Less distractions in class, increased engagement in classroom activities, increased ability to focus in class, increased success in class
    • Improved overall mental health
    • Reduced stress
    • Reduced drama, social conflicts, and discipline issues
    • Reduced inappropriate sharing of videos/posts/etc.
    • Students making more friends, less social anxiety
    • More time spent talking to other students, finding things to do with each other
Have Questions?

Q:  How will I communicate with my child during the school day?

A:  If your communication is not needed immediately, you can email your student.  If you need to communicate something immediately, call the office so they can communicate with your student right away.

Q:  What about emergency situations?

A:  School staff will communicate with families about emergency situations that arise.  School staff can make use of the school intercom system as well as phones to communicate.  

Q:  How will phones be collected and returned each day?

A:  This is still a work in progress, but one example is to have students turn in their phones when they arrive at their first class of the day.  Phones will then be kept in the office throughout the day.  Students will return to their first class to pick their phones up at the end of the day.

Q:  What are the consequences for students who have their phones with them during the day?

A:  The phone will be taken to the office for the rest of the day.  A parent/guardian will need to come to the office to pick up the phone.

Q:  What if my child needs to use their phone during the day?

A:  Prior arrangements can be made for students who require access to their phones during the day.  For example, a student that has a medical need that requires use of their phone.

Q: What about the use of smart watches? If students do not have access to phones, they will use their smart watches more.

A: Smart watches would be required to be turned in as well as cell phones.

Q: Will teachers be allowed to have their phones with them in class?

A: We have not yet had the opportunity to have this conversation with our teachers. We have talked about teachers needing to have phones available in the event of an emergency.

The evidence is clear, but don’t just take our word for it!

The Anxious Generation – book by Jonathan Haidt

“End the cell phone based childhood now”.pdf – journal article by Jonathan Haidt – podcast featuring Jonathan Haidt

EdWeek – article by Madeline Will

Beyond Bans: Schools’ Role in a Hard Reset on the ‘Phone-Based Childhood’ | Getting Smart – Article by Julia Freeland Fisher

Phone Notifications in the classroom – article from (England, UK) – blog post by Freya India – Washington Post article by Joanna Slater – Ed Weekly article

Parents are key when it comes to limiting screen time for kids, study finds – NPR article by Maria Godoy