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Atlanta schools take bold step, new limits on cellphones aim to boost student focus

Atlanta, Georgia – Several Atlanta-area schools are imposing new limits on cellphones use during school hours in a major effort to boost student focus and well-being. This choice fits with a national trend toward addressing the detrimental effects of mobile gadgets on youngsters’ and teenagers’ mental health.

The Marietta City School Board lately made news when it decided unanimously to forbid middle school students from using cellphones. Parent, staff, and student comments helped to design the policy set to go into effect on August 1. It is supported by research highlighting the detrimental effects of excessive device use on student well-being.

“School should be a place to learn and grow,” said Superintendent Grant Rivera. “That can’t happen if students are distracted by their phones. This solution will create a more focused and supportive educational environment.”

Students arriving at school will put their phones and smartwatches into Yondr pouches designated for them under the new policies. These pouches stay closed all day; only in the last five minutes of the last period will they open. Students with recorded medical issues will be exempt.

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Before considering its extension to high schoolers, Marietta City Schools spokesman Chris Fiore noted that the district will test the program for middle school students.

“We recognize that there’s a problem at the high school level,” he said, noting concerns from parents about smartwatch use in elementary schools as well.

Several Atlanta-area schools are imposing new limits on cellphones use during school hours in a major effort to boost students' productivity
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Marietta is acting pro-actively, but not every district in the area is doing so. For example, the Cobb County School District does not intend to alter its present policy on student cell phone use. Officials from Clayton, DeKalb, and Gwinnett counties school systems also said they do not have comparable rules in place.

Beginning the 2024–25 academic year, Atlanta’s Midtown High School will adopt a similar policy. Students will have to put their devices in lockable pouches, only access them at the end of the day. Students at Decatur High School will similarly keep their phones in safe lockers at the start of every class, then retrieve them at the end of every period.

Last week, the Liberty County Board of Education imposed a similar restriction in South Georgia also using locked pouches.

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This regional effort reflects more general national activity. For approximately 429,000 students during the school day, the Los Angeles Unified School District has voted to forbid cellphones and social media use. The Minneapolis metro area has witnessed similar crackdowns, and a new Ohio state legislation mandates schools restrict cell phone use.

Teachers and legislators looking to establish environments that support learning and mental health are driving the push to limit cellphones usage in classrooms. As schools struggle with the ubiquitous presence of mobile devices in students’ life, the outcomes of these regulations will be under much observation.

Aurelia Whitlock


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