Schools Are Treating Students for Separation Anxiety from Their Phones

schoolkids using smartphones

According to a recent report, K-12 schools around the country are having to treat students for separation anxiety after implementing policies that require students to hand over their smartphones. One school’s solution was to buy locking pouches for smartphones, which students were invited to decorate.

The Wall Street Journal reports that schools across the United States are dealing with an unexpected result of forcing students to hand over their phones — separation anxiety. Schools are being forced to develop coping mechanisms for the students who display signs of severe agitation and anxiety when away from their mobile devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Now, teachers across the country are testing their own methods for managing their students’ phone-related angst. Some use lockable pouches that let students hold their phones rather than having to leave them alone in their lockers. Others have set up charging stations in classrooms, betting that the visibility and value of a charge will keep students at ease. Then there are the teachers who have decided dangling extra credit and other prizes is the best defense against phone withdrawal.

South Bronx Early College Academy Charter School in New York decided two years ago that making students leave their phones in their lockers wasn’t working: Scofflaws sneaked out of class to use them. So the school bought a bunch of locking, foamlike pouches from a company called Yondr that also markets its devices to theaters that want to prevent audience members from filming performances. The students can keep their phones with them but can’t access them without a special magnetic unlocking mechanism.

The school lets students decorate their pouches, to “make them as cool as humanly possible for something that’s restricting them from their device,” says principal Brian Blough.

Other schools implemented rewards policies using an app called Pocket Points which tracked phone usage and allowed students to earn points for 10, 15 and 24 class hours spent off the phone. These points could be redeemed for a number of rewards, from Starbucks drinks to being allowed to drop their worst test score from their final grade.

Joseph Riffle, a teacher at a school in Fairborn, Ohio, found that a rule allowing students to keep their phones but not use them at their desk was not working, the educator then came up with a new plan. Riffle purchased a number of boxes with USB plugs located inside and set a new rule that students must place their phones inside the boxes where they could be charged. This charging system reportedly worked for three years until the school enacted a flat ban on phones.

Read the full report at the Wall Street Journal here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at


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