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All Middle Schoolers Should be Allowed to Own a Phone - Here’s Why by Matan R.

I strongly believe that all middle school students should be allowed to own a phone. I was not allowed to own a phone until April last year. Frankly, during last year when everyone was virtual, there was less need for one. However, now that students are back in the building, phones are a necessity.


Middle school students need a phone in case we need to communicate with our parents or in case of an emergency. We can also talk to our friends and have a social life. Cell phones make everyday life so much easier for us, and it teaches us responsibility, as we will eventually need to own phones.


Reason 1: In case you need to communicate with your parents

Often, the people I end up communicating with the most are my parents. If you want to go to the park, bike with friends, or stay after school for a club, you’ll want to tell your parents. One example is the day there was a hurricane and we had to leave school early. Administration did email the parents, but some parents might not check their emails. They are more likely to see it and care if you text it to them. You never know what might happen, and having a phone allows you to have a lot of flexibility. Finally, if you ever get stuck somewhere and need a ride, it is much easier to call your parents if you have a phone.


Reason 2: So that you can talk to your friends

It is extremely hard to talk to your friends without a phone. You can borrow a parent’s phone, but I know from experience that only makes it awkward for everyone. Even with apps like Discord, you generally need to use a computer to open it up (if you don’t use it on a phone), and computers obviously aren’t very portable, making it significantly easier to talk with your friends if you have a phone.


According to understandingteenagers.com.au, “A survey by Harris Interactive found that nearly half (47%) of US teenagers thought their social life would end or be significantly diminished if they did not have a mobile phone. 57% of teenagers credited their mobile phones with improving their life. Teenagers, like adults, use text messaging to organize their social life and maintain friendships – both absolutely critical tasks for adolescents. The rapid uptake of smartphones has made mobile devices even more effective, thus important, in this regard as teens can have constant access to their online social networking services.” This is evidence that having phones allows teens to be able to talk to their friends, which is good for overall mental health and lets kids have the freedom to enjoy themselves.


Reason 3: In case of an emergency

This is uncommon, and it has never happened to me, but if you or one of your friends, siblings, or really anyone gets injured, you may need a phone to call 911. There are all kinds of different events that could happen in which you’d need a phone to immediately call help, including a robbery, kidnapping, injury, or if you’re stuck somewhere, there’s a power line down, etc. There are endless possibilities. The most common one is probably that a ride cancels on you or you miss the bus home from school, which can easily be fixed by a parent arranging a ride for you, but without a phone, it can be much harder to communicate your need to your family. This is arguably the primary reason why phones are a necessity, but these other reasons are pretty important too.


Reason 4: Convenience - helps a lot with everyday life

Honestly, the biggest reason middle school students need a phone is just that they are so convenient. If you want to look something up, play games, check email, set alarms and reminders, check the time and date, text, watch Youtube or Tiktok, or take pictures, phones will help a lot. When I first got my phone, I wasn’t sure how much I would use it, but now I find that it is incredibly convenient, and I don’t know what I would do without it. Surveys have shown that most kids use their phones for more than just texting - they use them for taking and sharing pictures, playing music, playing games, and so much more.


Reason 5: Teaches kids responsibility

Blaire Lent (MS.Ed., MS.Sp.Ed.), an educator, shares,“As the Head of School, I have felt that learning to appropriately engage with a cell phone is an important life skill. Therefore we have a policy that students will lose classroom points if they use their cellphones during lecture and note-taking time, but we do not ban cell phones entirely. The point behind this policy was to give students an arena to practice self control regarding phone usage so that they might develop those skills before adulthood.”


As a student, your main goal is to learn how to become an adult and a contributing member of society. Right now, about 97% of Americans have a cell phone, and that number will continue to increase. By allowing kids to have a phone early on, they will learn how to safely browse the internet and become more efficient using a phone, which is an increasingly important life skill.


Addressing parents’ concerns

Some parents may have concerns about giving their kids a phone. One of the concerns is that phones are bad for them and their mental health and cause issues like anxiety. For many students, phones actually help. Knowing that you can easily contact your parents or guardians is extremely helpful. For example, a kid with anxiety could ask "When are you going to pick me up?" or "Where are you?" all of which can help calm them down.


According to the New York Times, theories about technology and screen usage, despite popular belief, are not directly linked to anxiety, depression, and mental health problems at all. Also, you can install things like screen time, which limits the amount of time kids can spend on phones.


Another concern some parents have is that kids will use their phones for looking at inappropriate content. There are things like SafeSearch you can install to stop these searches. If you or your parents have concerns about boundaries and restrictions, here’s a great resource to check out. There are all kinds of apps and software you can use to monitor searches and apps, but you should also trust your kids enough to let them use a phone without watching every little thing they do.


Conclusion

Although many parents and teachers have many worries about letting young teens have smartphones, they give kids a high level of convenience, as well as numerous other benefits. This includes being able to contact parents, get help during emergencies, talk with friends, and teach them responsibility for when they get older. Despite what parents say, owning a phone does not actually negatively affect your mental health. That is simply a result of the way society is nowadays, and people use cell phones as a scapegoat. For those reasons, all middle schoolers should be allowed to own a phone.

 

Thanks for reading my article! I’m excited to be on the school newspaper team again for the 2021-2022 year. Please show this article to your parents if you aren’t allowed to have a phone, as it just might help. If you know of anyone else who isn’t allowed to have a phone, make sure to send this article to them. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to put them below, or email me at 175298@mcpsmd.net. If you liked the article, please give it a heart, and consider reading my other articles. Thanks for reading!


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