If you have a cell phone and you're a parent, how many times have you asked your child to help you figure out how to use your new phone?
Come on, admit it! You've done it more than once.
Why? Because today's students have grown up with computers, iPods, cell phones, and other types of technology. They have a "feel" for these things. It's second nature to most young people.
Though technology is a wonderful thing, and can be extremely helpful in our schools, it can also be a problem.
Cell phones are a good example. Schools have been forced to find a way to deal with students using cell phones at school. Not just to make calls, but to text and also take pictures.
Linton-Stockton High School has taken a hard stance on the subject. Its handbook states under the "Electronic Devices" category:
"Possessing or using on school grounds during school hours an electronic device, a cellular telephone, or any other telecommunication device in a situation not related to a school purpose or educational function is prohibited. School hours are defined as 7:45 a.m. until 3:25 p.m. within the school buildings and facilities, and school sponsored transportation at all times. The following disciplinary actions will be taken but not limited to
First offense -- two days out-of-school suspension.
Second offense -- three days out-of-school suspension.
Third offense -- five days out-of-school suspension.
Fourth offense -- 10 days out-of-school suspension, recommendation for expulsion."
It's a problem all schools are facing.
"A lot of people have cell phones, and they are very, very useful. As a parent I like it," Linton-Stockton High School Principal Nick Karazsia said.
"The problem is when they get in a school setting. They can be used to interfere with what's going on in school."
Students have uncovered ways to use cell phones to their advantage at school.
"An example is, students texting other students as to what was on a test or what to look for on a test," Karazsia explained. "And they're texting each other just to converse. ... They were using their cameras on their phones to take pictures of exams, and sharing them with other students. And they were taking pictures of students and personnel and putting them in places (they shouldn't be).
"In a school setting, (cell phones) aren't appropriate. They're not an educational function. They can be very disruptive. Because of that, we felt like, in light of all the disciplinary notices last year, we needed to do something really serious."
Two years ago the policy was if a student was found with a cell phone, the phone was sent to the office and the student would pick it up later and take it home.
Last year, "we would take the cell phone away and the parent would come get it," Karazsia recalled. "If it continued, they would be suspended. That didn't work. We had well over 100 disciplinary referrals."
Karazsia said iPods were a problem too. The school did allow students to listen to music at times, but that too was being abused.
"Some students were putting notes on their iPods and listening to it (instead of music) when they were taking a test," Karazsia said.
"Technology is great, but unfortunately younger people are sometimes better at technology than older people. They know how to use it and abuse it in some situations."
So far this year, there have been 10 students suspended for cell phone use.
"The far majority of those have been what I call accidental usage. An example would be if a student has their phone on them, and it goes off. They hit a wrong button, or forgot to turn it off and someone calls them," Karazsia said.
"If everyone would just understand that possession is the rule ... they're not to have it (on school grounds)."
That includes lockers and their cars.
Karazsia added that if a student has their cell phone in their locker or vehicle, the school may never know. But if those are searched for another reason -- for a weapon or drugs, for example -- and the phone is uncovered, they will be suspended.
If a student needs to get in touch with their parents during school hours, they can use the office phone.
"If they left their homework at home and need their parent to bring it, that's OK. Something that's school related, that's not a problem," Karazsia said.
"If they want to call them and let them know they're going to stay at Johnny's house, that's not OK. It needs to be school related or an emergency."
Karazsia said teachers can use their cell phones at school, but only when appropriate.
"We've talked about this in our administrative, faculty and staff meetings. ... In the classroom, if a teacher is instructing, teaching, they will not be using their cell phones," Karazsia said.
"If they're on their prep time or lunch time, if they need to make a call, they're permitted to do so. Anytime they are in the classroom working with students, they are not to use their cell phones."
Chris is the general manager/editor of the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org