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The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

The Student News Site of Wilde Lake High School

The Paw Print

Phone Addictions Consume Students, Poll Shows

Freshman+Jamar+Addison+sits+in+Mr.+Bells+classroom+on+his+phone+during+instructional+time.+Teachers+say+that+it+is+hard+to+balance+teaching+and+phone+management+in+the+classroom.
Caroline Sorensen
Freshman Jamar Addison sits in Mr. Bell’s classroom on his phone during instructional time. Teachers say that it is hard to balance teaching and phone management in the classroom.

According to a survey posted to “The Paw Print” Instagram, 2/3 Wilde Lake students surveyed said they feel addicted to their phones. This reflects a national trend, with 58% of teens from the ages of 15-17 saying it would be hard to give up social media in 2022, according to Pew Research Center.

Psychology teacher Ms. Hibbard knows her students are addicted to their phones from a “psychology perspective.” “It’s in our brains. Our dopamine receptors get fired when we get messages, and that’s part of the addiction,” she said. “It’s brain science. We’re rewarded when we check our phone and somebody has messaged us, or rewarded if we’ve gotten the likes on Instagram.”

Students have anxious reactions to notifications on their phones, says Health teacher Mr. Shaw. “They have to look at it. They must look at it, or else they… get really bad anxiety because they’re not looking at their phones,” he said.

Students check their phones because they are addicted to notifcations. Junior Jayla Copes, who has an average screen time of seven to eight hours a day, says she is addicted to her phone. Since third grade, Jayla has turned to her phone to cure her boredom and provide “short entertainment.”

English teacher Ms. Kostelic says that this addiction students feel to their phones is due to a “lack of choice” when a student reaches for their phone.

“It is so instinctual. I think sometimes my kids don’t even realize that they’re reaching for it,” she said.

Yet, freshman Cortez Butler says that his phone is good for him because it helps him stay connected and communicate with his friends. “You can be open to people on your phone. You get to talk to people who you do not really get to see on a daily basis, so it feels good to have a form of connection to them,” he said.

Junior Sam Brady sees the benefits of phones, saying they offer students a sense of control. “Everyone has their own little personalized world on their phone, so they do not want to escape it,” says Sam.

“[Students] can ignore real world issues and real people if they want [on their phones], but if you force them to get out of that little mindset, then you are forcing them to face fears first hand.”

Despite the benefits, students are still able to see the negative effects of phone addiction. Freshman Justice Brianna Randall says that phones take away from the educational experience of a classroom.
“If you are on your phone all day, you are paying more attention to how [someone] is going to text you back or when you are going to get a notification rather than the actual teaching,” she said.

Across the county, phone policies can differ from high school to high school. Mount Hebron senior Eshal Ahmad has to put her phone at the front of the classroom before her English class. At Atholton, according to junior Madison Turnbough, some teachers require students to place their phones in “phone caddies” before class time.

On Mr. Shaw’s first day of teaching in February 2018, he walked into his classroom and knew that there was “a problem with kids on their phones in school.” Since then, he said he sees phones constantly “interrupting performance in school.” Now, he and his fellow teachers wrestle with managing their students’ phone addictions in the classroom setting.

The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) phone policy creates guidelines for phone usage during school hours. However, according to Ms. Kolestic, teachers manage phone usage in their classrooms through their own preferred policies at Wilde Lake.

Ms. Hibbard believes that the “further away” the phone is from the student, “the better.” Teachers are constantly having to “repeat directions” and “redirect” when students are on their phones during class, according to Ms. Kostelic.

Do you feel addicted to your phone?

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“I’m finding it is a little overwhelming. Sometimes [redirection] feels equivalent to, if not surpassing, the amount of instruction and content. That can be difficult, but if I don’t redirect then sometimes I’m like, ‘who am I even teaching to?’” she said.

Moving forward, Ms. Kostelic says that she is looking to “find a balance” for her students’ “wants and needs,” but that proves to be difficult, as she says, “[phone addiction] is bigger than me and bigger than my classroom and bigger than education in general.”

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