Students begin school year with new cell phone ban at district

KENT COUNTY, Mich. - School officials are implementing a new no cell phone policy at Forest Hills Public Schools, hopeful the change will help students achieve higher grades while improving their mental health.

Monday marks the first day of the 2019/2020 school year for students at Forest Hills. Administrators say they've implemented the new policy based on multiple reports from the CDC, American Pediatrics, and top universities indicating cellphone use in the classroom fosters bullying, depression and isolation; while stealing their attention from the classroom.

"Students who have cell phones in class, their grades went down anywhere from 20-14 percent," said Becky Telzerow, a licensed professional counselor at Forest Hills Public Schools. "And kids who's screen time is more than two hours are some of the most unhappy kids."

Telzerow says she's noticed students who use cell phones at school are not able to develop necessary coping and problem solving skills, missing out on key face-to-face opportunities with their peers and teachers: and she's not alone. Local psychologist, Dr. Nicole Beurkens, is now applauding Forest Hills for taking these steps to remove cell phones from the classroom.

"By removing the devices from the equation, it encourages to get to know their peers in their environment," said Dr. Beurkens. "To go to the playground and actually play together which is one of the purposes of that as opposed to everybody sitting and playing their video game or their texting. "

Telzerow admits the transition will be hard at first for both students and staff at Forest Hills saying the long term benefits will far outweigh the initial shock of not using phones at school.

"Phones are not evil, they’re amazing tools but the tool doesn’t use us, but we use the tool," Telzerow said.

Administrators say if you want to get in touch with you children it will have to be through the school's office. Now only time will tell if the new policy will help students at Forest Hills Public Schools.

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